The Government has presented a housing bill to Parliament. The Conservatives have decided to spend vast sums of money to increase home ownership for the lucky few who manage to get a Starter Home or buy a housing association home under Right to Buy, at the cost of providing homes for those who need a more affordable place to live. That includes the 1.6 million people on social housing waiting lists.
Liberal Democrats are fighting the new bill and seeking 6 major changes. These are:
- ‘Affordable housing’ must mean homes that are genuinely affordable. What the Government thinks is affordable is simply out of reach for many people.
- Councils should not be forced to sell off their council housing. They should have local discretion to manage their homes in the interest of local people.
- All homes sold off under the Right to Buy extension must be replaced, by building more of the same types of homes in the same area.
- Starter Homes should be for people who want and need to live in them, not bought by cash buyers or let out for profit. They should stay at a discounted price for future buyers too, not just their first owner.
- Tenants should have access to the Rogue Landlords database, so they can check out a future landlord before they move.
- Higher earning council tenants who are asked to ‘Pay to Stay’ should be earning a decent income before they’re charged more – a couple earning £15,000 each are not ‘high earners’.
There are many other issues we’re tackling, including giving communities a right of appeal on house building in their local area, and bringing back Zero Carbon Homes.
There are a few things Lib Dems welcome, including measures to speed up planning processes. But overall, Tory proposals merely tinkers round the edges when it comes to increasing the supply of new homes and it will have a devastating impact on affordability.
Party Leader Tim Farron has said this Bill will cause the “death of social housing”.