I remember reading this a few months ago and thinking that as a plan for housing it was fairly anodyne, but largely harmless. The only really interesting measure being the tentative promise to examine council borrowing for housing:
Better and more affordable homes
In a fair society, everyone should have the right to a decent home, but this is not the reality of Britain today. There should be quality social and private rented housing available for those who need or choose it. And it should be easy to keep your home warm without harming the environment; British houses are frequently poorly insulated, wasting money and contributing to global warming.
- Make sure that repossession is always the last resort by changing the powers of the courts.
- Bring 250,000 empty homes back into use with cheap loans and grants as part of our job creation plan.
- Begin a national programme to insulate more homes paid for by the savings from lower energy bills.
- Make sure every new home is fully energy efficient by improving building regulations.
- Investigate reforming public sector borrowing requirements to free councils to borrow money against their assets in order to build a new generation of council homes, and allow them to keep all the revenue from these new homes. Over time, we will seek to provide a greater degree of subsidy as resources allow to increase the number of new sustainable homes being built.
- Scrap burdensome Home Information Packs, retaining the requirement for homes to have an energy performance certificate.
Clearly what I missed in these words were were the seeds of the most right-wing attack on the principle that the state should provide good quality housing for its citizens, above all for those that cannot afford it themselves.
It is, of course, an extract from the Lib Dem Manifesto for 2010. I’m sure they must have said somewhere that they would accept cutting housing investment by 75%, forcing ever more people on to housing benefit at the point where you’re slashing it to below poverty levels – as they admit themselves.