We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Suspend 'Right to Buy' for five years, say SW Lib Dems

December 7, 2017 3:14 PM

Devon, Cornwall and Western Counties Lib Dems have called on Lib Dem MPs to lobby the government to suspend the right to buy legislation for at least five years in order to retain as much social housing as possible.

They've also called on the government to allow local authorities to borrow to invest in social housing - something they are not currently allowed to do.

Over 17,000 households are in housing need in Devon and the greatest need across all local authority areas in Devon remains for one-bedroom properties. On average 62 people now bid for every one-bedroom home that is released onto the market.

"We urgently need councils to be allowed to borrow to invest in small, affordable homes that will help to address the urgent housing needs of our communities," said Caroline Voaden, South Hams member and former parliamentary candidate for the South West Devon constituency.

"Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice - it is a tragedy. People are now paying up to 60% of their income on housing and it's clear those on average earnings can't afford private rents in many parts of our region," Voaden told the recent Lib Dem Regional Conference in Exeter.

"What's more, these high rental costs are pushing more and more families into poverty, which has a devastating knock-on effect on children in terms of lifelong health and educational achievement."

The conference, including delegates from the South West and Western Counties regions, passed the housing motion proposed by the South Hams Lib Dem party with no opposition.

National housing charity Shelter has launched an urgent Christmas appeal, estimating that 140 families become homeless every day. It says the biggest causes of homelessness are the end of private tenancy agreements, a continued lowering of benefit caps, the introduction of universal credit and the bedroom tax.

"The government says councils 'have a duty' to provide safe, secure and suitable temporary accommodation. We say they need to have the ability to borrow the money needed to invest in suitable accommodation," said Voaden.

In their recent budget the Conservative government pledged to help first-time buyers by raising the stamp duty threshold to £300,000. This does nothing to help those who cannot afford a roof over their head and little is being done for those in dire need, such as families of four or five living in one-room temporary accommodation for months on end, as highlighted by Shelter.

"While our countryside is eaten up by new build developments for three and four-bedroom homes that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, where are the one and two-bedroom flats? Where are the units for single people, young people, older people who want somewhere clean, safe and warm to live? We have got to change our housing priorities to help those who are most in need and quickly building new affordable housing will help alleviate the problem," said Voaden.