2018 Brighton Conference – Affordable Housing

This was my second conference as a member of the Federal Conference Committee (FCC). I had just joined FCC for the Spring conference and was really an observer. For the Autumn conference, I was involved from the start. The whole thing was well organised, and the team work well together (you have to give credit where credit is due). There were approximately 2400 members – more or less in line with previous year.

One note of sadness, I learned about, was the passing of Robert Adamson (Chair of the Liberal Democrat Disability Association).  My Condolences to the bereaved family. Rest in Peace Robert.

Other than the sad news about Robert I enjoyed the conference. I enjoyed the interaction with the members, late-night meals and the different parts of the conference I was involved in. Outside the hall, I did see a lot of homeless people which I found distressing. Listening to a journalist on the TV talking about the Lib Dems he speculated that our policies need to reflect the concerns people talk about in pubs. One of the examples he gave was affordable housing, interesting he didn’t mention Brexit. I had the opportunity to speak to Gina Miller, we discussed why she had launched her new website “end the chaos”, she said she did this after listening to thousands of people and was surprised to learn that majority of them didn’t even know what Brexit was. The website was set up to provide core facts.

Liberal Democrat conference passed a motion calling for the Government to ensure everyone has a right to affordable, safe and secure homes in England.




The motion included a commitment to build at least 50,000 new social homes for rent every year, as part of the long-standing commitment of the Liberal Democrats to build 300,000 homes a year over the next decade.

It also called for better environmental standards for housing, to reduce both fuel poverty and greenhouse gas emissions, and to deliver more security for tenants in the private rented sector through increasing landlords’ notice period from 2 months to 6 months and an expansion of the ‘rent to buy’ scheme.

The creation of a British Housing Company which would acquire unused land for building through compulsory acquisition was also incorporated into the motion.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

“Radical action must be taken to ensure people have the right to live in an affordable and secure home. With our country in the midst of a housing crisis and homelessness at a record high, the Government’s inaction is a dereliction of duty.

“If we are to truly tackle the housing crisis, we must embark on a large programme to rebuild our social housing stock. We must also alleviate the insecurity faced by many tenants in the private rented sector such as through giving tenants a minimum of six months’ notice before they have to leave the property.

“The housing crisis is a human crisis, and this country must demand better of its Government. It is long overdue they made a sincere effort to create a national strategy for investment in housing, rather than the piecemeal approach we have seen thus far”.

* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

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8 Comments

  • My sincere condolences to Robert’s family. I have known Robert as a Conference time friend, and fellow member of the LD Disability Association since we were both campaigning to be prospective MEP candidates in Yorkshire in 1998 (for the 1999 Euros – the first ones to be contested on the enlarged constituencies using a List system).

    Like many others, I had great admiration for Robert, who took on as much work, and as many roles as he could, given his debilitating condition. He was always a voice for sanity, for diplomacy, and for the need to get things done. As you say, Tahir, Rest in Peace, Robert.

  • nigel hunter 19th Sep '18 - 10:38am

    Conservatives have issued a statement that 2 billion pounds will be made available to combat the stigma!? of social housing . The money will be available in 2022. The money will go to housing associations and councils. It is interesting to note it comes after our conference and before theirs. Equally it is just a drop in the ocean to patch the crisis. Also it states. 2022. This is the planned year for the next election. Are they getting ready for it?? The elephant in the room for this plan is Brexit .If it goes pear shape will this promise be sent to the rubbish heap of failed ideas.

  • The key issue for public housing is the price of Land. The motion passed at conference
    calling for the creation of a British Housing Company which would acquire unused land for building through compulsory acquisition needs to be followed through with reform of the 1961 Land Compensation Act.

    The Huffington post reports on this issue today https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/landowners-pocket-ps13bn-profit-in-one-year-just-for-getting-planning-permission_uk_5ba12638e4b046313fbfe3ee
    “Landowners pocketed a staggering £13bn in profit last year simply for securing planning permission while a housing crisis continues to grip the nation.
    Research by the Centre for Progressive Policy and the National Housing Federation has unmasked how land-holders are raising massive sums simply for being a proprietor.
    Agricultural land now becomes 275 times more expensive once it receives planning permission, even before a single home is built. This is a huge uplift from just two years ago when planning permission increased the value of farmland by around 100 times.
    It means proprietors are effectively sitting on a goldmine once planners green-light development on a site they own.
    …the NHF and CPP say a radical overhaul is needed so some land sales profits can be captured and ploughed into the public purse for new affordable housing and infrastructure, such as roads.
    “In the face of a disastrous housing crisis, it is clear that the broken housing market is simply not delivering. What’s more, the way we buy and sell land is the key cause. Now, we need a fundamental rethink to tackle this fundamental problem.”

    “it’s crucial that government investment helps housing associations to build the right kind of homes at the right prices. In practice this means building more homes at the lowest social rents – which is often the only truly affordable option for people on lower incomes.”
    The English housing survey 2016/17 reported that 3.9 million households, approximately nine million people, lived in the social rented sector – which was 17% of households in the country.
    The survey added 10% rented from housing associations and 7% from local authorities.
    By contrast, 20% of households were private rented and 63% owner-occupied.

    This is the number one issue for the great majority of the UK population and one that the Libdems need to have front and centre in any campaign we engage in.

  • OnceALibDem 19th Sep '18 - 2:19pm

    Sad to hear about Robert. Who often got my vote for things as he would have a 100% attendance record at committees despite travelling a lot of miles. Which kind of stood as an interesting comparision to big name London people with very poor attendance records….

  • Very sad indeed about Robert, a truly lovely man. I have very fond memories of him from Conference. They don’t get better than him and I’ll really miss him

  • Gemma Roulston 19th Sep '18 - 8:56pm

    I hope that the housing policy will actually have something about accessible housing. If you are in a wheelchair, but your house isn’t accessible, it doesn’t matter whether it’s social housing or not, it’s not fit for purpose.
    I am sure that if Robert had been at conference, he would have put in a comment about the lack of accessible housing. Many disabled people are trapped in their homes if they can’t get in, out or around them.
    I found out about Robert’s death on the way to conference. I can’t believe that he’s gone. We need to have more housing for all and not just some.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Feb '19 - 9:58pm

    Idealism in affordable housing, build and form a co-operative with a rent 30% below normal rates. Follow the designs of the late Waltar Seagal.
    https://www.bing.com/search?q=waltar+seagall+architect&form=WNSGPH&qs=SW&cvid=ca5b5d5aa3cf4548a65f5cdca2485475&pq=waltar+seagall+architect&cc=GB&setlang=en-US&nclid=D19A84F13F0AA22DEE7AE50DDCF460A0&ts=1550005468292&wsso=Moderate
    Grand Designs Revisited goes back to the Hedgehog co-op 12 years after building was completed and people moved in. How many of the people who built the houses are still in them? All of them. Working together created a community.
    The programme was repeated on More4 and More4+1 tonight 12/2/2019.
    Unskilled people from the housing waiting list in Brighton built the houses on a site rejected by two commercial developers.
    Kevin asked “WHY ARE WE NOT DOING MORE OF THIS?
    Indeed, why not? Start by watching the programme.

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