We need to build 300,000 homes per year just to meet current demand but we are barely building half that amount. There are not enough homes for social rent to meet demand. That means people are struggling to afford good homes where they need to live. Any hope of owning a home is remote for too many people. They often must rely on the private rental market which is expensive and insecure. The crisis in social housing has been depleted by the loss of stock under Right to Buy. Decisions on Right to Buy will be devolved to councils. Social tenants will own their homes after 30 years under the Rent to Own scheme. Private tenants will benefit from a Help to Rent scheme.
Liberal Democrats will build at least 100,000 homes for social rent each year and ensure that total housebuilding increases to 300,000 each year. Rough sleeping will end within five years and the Vagrancy Act scrapped.
Building of social homes will be supported with funds from a £130 billion capital infrastructure budget. It will be down to councils to decide whether to continue with the Right to Buy currently imposed on them by central government. The Lib Dems will bring in a new Rent to Own model for social housing. Tenants will own their home outright after 30 years.
Local authorities will be able to impose council tax of up to 500 per cent if homes are being bought as second homes. Overseas residents purchasing second homes will pay a surcharge on stamp duty.
The private rental sector must be reformed. The Lib Dems will bring in a Help to Rent scheme. It will provide government-backed tenancy deposit loans for all first-time renters under 30. To give tenants security, longer tenancies of three years or more will be encouraged. The annual rent increase will be limited to the rate of inflation. Protections for tenants against rogue landlords will also be strengthened by introducing mandatory licensing.
Improvements also need to be made to the social rented sector. Clearer standards for homes will be introduced. Social housing providers will be required to deal with complaints in a timely manner and recognise tenant panels. Regulations intended to protect social renters will be enforced.
Nobody should have to spend a night sleeping on the streets. Rough sleeping is one of the most visible signs of the growth of poverty and inequality since the 2008 recession. Liberal Democrats will end rough sleeping within five years. A ‘somewhere safe to stay’ legal duty will ensure that everyone who is at risk of sleeping rough is provided with emergency accommodation and an assessment of their needs. The Vagrancy Act will be scrapped, ensuring that rough sleeping is no longer criminalised. Homeless people, and those at risk of homelessness, will be exempt from the Shared Accommodation Rate. Providers of housing for asylum seekers will have a duty to refer people leaving asylum accommodation to the local housing authority if they are at risk of homelessness. Local authorities will be given resources to provide accommodation for survivors of domestic abuse and to make the Homelessness Reduction Act work.
An emergency programme will insulate all Britain’s homes by 2030, cutting emissions and fuel bills and ending fuel poverty for 2.5 million households in England. Investment in home insultation and zero carbon heating will be increased to £6 billion a year within five years. By 2021, all new homes to be built to a zero carbon standard ensuring as much energy is renewably generated on site as is used. This will rise to Passivhaus standard by 2025. A Zero-Carbon Heat Strategy will require the phased installation of heat pumps in homes and businesses off the gas grid.