William Eichler 12 March 2018

Lib Dems call for ‘overhaul’ of local government housing powers

Lib Dems call for ‘overhaul’ of local government housing powers

The Liberal Democrats have called for local authorities to be granted new powers that will enable them to build and invest in more affordable and social housing.

At their Spring Conference over the weekend, the party said there needed to be an ‘overhaul’ of council powers as part of a push to solve the country’s housing crisis.

‘Having a place to call home is a basic human right. In the face of a national housing crisis we are failing as a country to fulfil that right,’ said Lib Dem housing spokesperson Wera Hobhouse.

‘It is clear that the private sector cannot be relied upon to deliver affordable homes for those struggling to get on the housing ladder.’

The party called for greater access to borrowing for local authorities, strengthened powers to bring empty homes back into use and the power to direct the use of otherwise unwanted public land.

The Lib Dems also proposed implementing measures that would allow councils to abandon Right to Buy and that would require them to invest profit from council house sales into new social housing.

‘Social housing is one of the pillars that underpin our welfare state,’ Ms Hobhouse said.

‘It is a vital safety net for tens of thousands of families who cannot afford to rent privately, let alone ever buy their own homes.

‘We need local government and housing associations to provide new social housing directly.’

Citing the controversial Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), the party’s conference also warned councils against undertaking ‘vast development projects’, which they said threatened social housing and created 'ghettoisation' of council estates and developments.

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