Author Archives: Patrick Murray

Opinion: Let’s make this the Housing General Election

Last month,  2,300 people descended on Westminster for the Homes for Britain rally calling for all political parties to end the housing crisis in a generation, and publish a plan within a year of office setting out how they would do this. It was an inspirational moment, and one of the biggest campaign rallies I have ever seen. Many people from took part in the relay leading up to it – walking, running, cycling from all over the country. There was even a bus, Betsy, who journeyed up from Land’s End, visiting towns and cities along the way taking the message about the housing crisis to the people.

So why is it so important? Well we are in the midst of a terrible crisis. For over 30 years no Government of any political party has built anywhere near enough homes. We need 245,000 homes a year now, yet we only built around half that figure last year. As a result for young people in many parts of the country owning a home is something they can only dream of. There are still 1.6 million families on waiting lists for affordable housing. And we lack suitable housing options for older people despite the massive demographic changes coming our way. Of course this crisis looks different in different housing markets, for example in some parts of the country the challenge is about regenerating communities and replacing decrepit homes, but one thing is clear – our housing system is dysfunctional and fails almost everyone.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 31 Comments

Opinion: Lib Dems must commit to end the housing crisis within a generation

Matilda HouseThis Monday in Glasgow, Lib Dem conference will debate motion F21 “Building the Affordable Homes We Need”. The Liberal Democrats have a fantastic opportunity to tackle the greatest social challenge of my generation, the housing crisis.

The economic and social cost of this crisis is huge. England needs around 245,000 new homes a year just to meet demand. Yet we are building half the homes we need. The latest figures show that the average income needed to buy a home is £36,500, higher than the incomes of more than half of the households in the country.

Add to that the largest baby boom since the 1960s, between 2001 and 2012, and we can see that this is a crisis that threatens to engulf the hopes and dreams of a generation, many of whom will never be able to afford a home they can truly call their own. But, for me, this crisis has always been about more than numbers.

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Opinion: It’s time to say Yes to Homes

Britain is in the grip of a housing crisis. There are 1.8m households on waiting lists for affordable homes, totalling over 4.5m people. Millions of young people are priced out of the housing market, unlikely to ever be able to afford to buy their own home. Poor quality, overcrowded accommodation impacts significantly on the health and well-being of its residents. It is undoubtedly one of the great social crises of my generation.

Yet for all the statistics, case studies and figures there are two that really stand out – 98,280 and 240,000. The first is the number of new homes built last …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

Opinion: 4.5 million people are waiting for homes – let’s not leave them behind

David Cameron’s recent comments on council housing tenancies have sparked some controversy in the media and here on Lib Dem Voice.

First, I am delighted that at least there is a debate around housing policy. Many people are simply unable to afford to buy, leaving people in cramped overcrowded accommodation that is harmful to their and their family’s health. There are still many people sleeping on our streets and many more in homeless shelters and temporary accommodation.

I’ve seen both ends of the crisis. Ten years ago I was homeless myself and went through the shelters to temporary accommodation …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

Opinion: A Liberal Line on Immigration

For me one of the key tenets of liberalism is our commitment to human rights and fairness. This is why I think fighting the fight on immigration is so important.

On last night’s Question Time, a member of the audience asked whether the rise of the BNP had been down to Labour’s failure on immigration. I think there is an element of truth in that, but perhaps not the element of truth that our home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, thought.

Over the last ten years we have been subjected to Home Office and Immigration policy made to please the xenophobic, right wing agenda of papers such as the Daily Mail.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 61 Comments

End Mental Health Discrimination: Repeal Section 141

One in four people in this country will suffer from a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Rethink, a national mental health charity, conducted a survey on MPs mental health last year. They found that 11% of MPs had suffered personally from a mental health problem. Yet not one is prepared to speak publicly.

In part this is undoubtedly to with the stigma that surrounds mental health. But there is also a clause in the Mental Health Act which states that any MP who is sectioned is removed from their seat, with no provision to return. There is …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | 6 Comments

Martin Salter put loyalty to Brown before loyalty to the Gurkhas

Reading has a significant number of Gurkha ex-servicemen and their families, and Reading Liberal Democrats have joined some politicians from other parties, including retiring Reading West Labour MP Martin Salter, and the current Mayor of Reading Cllr Peter Beard, in campaigning for Gurkha justice and better welfare for Gurkha families.

Yesterday was an historic day for the Ghurkas. Nick Clegg’s motion to grant these brave soldiers the right to live in Britain passed by 267 votes to 246. It was a victory for justice. Clegg was absolutely right to press Gordon Brown on the moral principle at stake during PMQs- namely, …

Posted in News | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Opinion: Eco-Towns – what about social justice?

The Eco Towns motion passed at the Liberal Democrat conference was flawed: in seeking to oppose centrally imposed Eco-Towns the policy centrally imposed a rigid policy across the country, with no regard for local circumstances.

In my hometown of Oxford we have some of the worst housing problems in the country. I myself was homeless only eight years ago, sleeping in the city’s homeless shelter for young people. I’ve also been at the sharp end of trying to solve the crisis, as Oxford city council’s housing portfolio holder from 2006 until this May.

The reality is that the housing crisis in Oxford is destroying lives. We have thousands of people on the waiting list, and thousands more in private sector accomodation not even on the list. We have hideous problems of overcrowding, homeless shelters and hostels that are regularly full, with few homes free for people to move off the streets. The average waiting time for larger affordable homes is 10 years. Locally produced estimates of housing need show that we need at least 1700 new affordable homes every year just to keep pace with demand, let alone tackle the backlog. Remember: behind these statistics are real human lives, real tragedies.

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments
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