Today, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ming Campbell said Britain needed a revolution in housing. He unveiled proposals for building one million new socially rented, affordable and low cost homes by 2020.
Delivering the Chamberlain Lecture at a Joseph Rowntree Foundation conference in Birmingham, Ming Campbell launched a withering attack on Labour’s record on housing. He accused the Government of ‘ghettoising’ housing, leaving poor and vulnerable people living on large ‘sink estates’ which offered little hope or opportunity. He said it was a national disgrace that one million children still lived in overcrowded accommodation and 130,000 children lived in temporary housing.
Ming said that innovative and imaginative solutions were needed to deliver this revolution.
Liberal Democrat proposals include:
- Building 100,000 new affordable, social and low cost homes each year
- Devolving and reforming the planning system to make decisions faster and more effective for all parties
- Introducing equity mortgages to ensure that affordable housing is built and maintained for the benefit of generations of buyers
- Building smaller social housing developments which are integrated with private housing
- Cutting VAT on housing renovations and repairs
Addressing Labour’s failures Ming Campbell said:
“Over the last ten years in England, the number of homes being built for social housing has halved while the number of families on the waiting list has gone up by 50% to one and a half million.
“House prices have grown at almost four times the rate of earnings, whilst mortgage debt has grown by 150%. Fewer and fewer young people can get a foot on the housing ladder.
“Social housing has become ghettoised – assigned only to the poorest and most vulnerable – with just one third of working age tenants in full time jobs.
“We need to break the pattern of the last ten years with a revolution in housing policy.”
Outlining Liberal Democrat plans he said:
“By 2020 I want to see one million new socially rented, affordable and low cost homes.
“I want to ensure that the face of council housing is changed forever – replacing large estates with different housing types, and providing accommodation for a broad range of people rather than creating an enclave for the desperate.
“I am proposing the UK’s most ambitious home-building programme in over a quarter of a century. 100,000 new social, low cost and affordable houses every year to benefit Britain’s most vulnerable citizens.
“I do not accept that the fifth largest economy in the world should have over 130,000 children in unsuitable temporary accommodation. I do not accept that one million children should live in overcrowded conditions.”
Ming said that the tower blocks of the past have not been beneficial to communities:
“Too many housing estates, built with the best of intentions and in accordance with the thinking of time, have become centres of deprivation: high levels of unemployment, poor schools, crime and anti-social behaviour.
“Young people should live in a state of hope, not on an estate of deprivation.”
Concluding, Ming said:
“I want to make sure that ambitious young people can get on to the housing ladder – yes.
“But most of all I want to make sure that every citizen has the chance to live in a decent home – whether public or private.
“Today British cities are too often known for their ‘sink estates’ and housing inequalities. That’s a national disgrace. It should be a source of shame to us all. I have shown how we can tackle it. The time for that action is now.”