LGA finally agrees a common line on Housing Bill

Terraced housing

It’s never easy doing politics in the Local Government Association. Some commentators carelessly say that it is ‘Conservative-controlled’ because the Chairman, elected under carefully balanced internal horse-trading rules, is at the moment a Conservative.

But in reality it is a perpetual coalition, with each of the four political groups having a veto on the association’s public stance. This applies to any issue and to any press release.

So it is good to see that the LGA has now published a statement on the Housing and Planning Bill, even if the wording is convoluted and muted.

The following phrases ache with diplomacy:

The LGA and councils believe that some elements of the proposed Housing and Planning Bill will not help government achieve its ambitions, having the unintended consequence of reducing the availability of much-needed council housing, and hampering our ability to invest in new affordable council housing and to create the right mix of housing that local residents can afford to buy.

Our efforts in public and private will now be fully focused on improving [the Bill] so that councils can play their lead role in helping Government and all of our partners to increase housebuilding, enable home ownership, and reduce homelessness and benefits.

But there are more carnivorous sentences which even this Government might spot as being somewhat hostile:

[Some elements of the Bill] would actually drive up the housing benefit bill, which we all want to see reduced, as more people are forced to move into the more expensive private-rented sector.


[The LGA will be] opposing the forced sale of council homes to fund the extension of Right to Buy

If the Government were committed to evidence-based policy making then the LGA’s stance might indeed have a significant moderating effect on housing policy.

Sadly that is not the case and so yet again the struggle must take place on the red benches of the Lords.

But at least there will be a struggle.

* Chris White is a member of the Liberal Democrat Voice Editorial Team, a Liberal Democrat Councillor from St Albans and Deputy Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group.

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  • Tony Greaves 24th Jan '16 - 7:13pm

    I hope so. But why has it taken the LGA so long? Why have they let the Housing and Planning Bill go through all its stages in the Commons before managing to agree these “phrases aching with diplomacy”? And this is just the stuff on Housing.

    There’s all the Planning stuff as well which might cause more of a rumpus in middle-class England when they come to realise what it means!

    For my sins I am reading this Bill this weekend, all 200pp of it and lots more about it. As I turn the pages I alternate between snorting with derision, and hooting with amazement. And once again I think about just how much the LD Ministers stopped the Tories doing so many bad things during the Coalition years, and shake my head in dismay at what we now have.

    Tony Greaves

  • Tony Greaves “And once again I think about just how much the LD Ministers stopped the Tories doing so many bad things during the Coalition years, and shake my head in dismay at what we now have.”

    I understand all that, Tony, but what the LD Ministers didn’t cotton on to was that they were providing a trojan horse for the Tories five years later by destroying the differentiation between liberalism and conservatism. What was even more disturbing was that some of them actually believed in austerity and all that followed from it.

    Our fellow Yorkie T.H. Green must be turning in his grave.


  • Julian Heather 29th Mar '16 - 2:03pm

    Dear LDV.

    I fully understand, and support, the need for advertising on LDV pages, but it is bloody annoying when the ad obscures the top of the article, as this Norway tourism ad does. And I couldn’t find the x to close it down, as it was so hidden. perhaps LDV could require advertisers to avoid their adverts going out of the box, unless you actually click on the ad. Thanks, Julian

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