House prices are high across the country – even where houses are available to buy, they are often unaffordable for first-time buyers. In many areas, the rental market has also become unaffordable. Young people, in particular, need support from the government to help them find and keep a home of their own.
Building more and better homes
The housing crisis in Britain has become an emergency. For far too long Britain has built many fewer homes than we need; unless we build enough to meet demand, year after year, we will find that housing costs rise further out of reach. That is why we have set an ambitious target of increasing the national rate of housebuilding to 300,000 a year – almost double the current level. These new houses must be sustainably planned to ensure that excessive pressure is not placed on existing infrastructure. We will fight to lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of housing associations so that they can build council and social housing.
Keeping our borough alive
We must ensure that new developments don’t squeeze out existing residents, like the Earl’s Court project is threatening to do to people living at the West Kensington and Gibbs Green estates. We will continue to fight so that residents are guaranteed to be rehoused after their homes are bulldozed and are not forced out of the borough because they cannot afford new luxury flats.
One of the reasons that Hammersmith is such a great place to live is because it has all generations from young to old. Young people, however, who would love to make their home here, have no chance of getting on the housing ladder or affording the ever escalating rents. We need a major rethink of how we plan for and organise our living spaces.
Treating people fairly
The Liberal Democrats are clear – balancing the books on the backs of the poor and disabled, and demonising people who claim benefits, is neither acceptable nor responsible. Although all government budgets must be scrutinised to minimise waste and ensure value for money, this must not be used as an excuse to attack the poor and vulnerable. In any case it is more effective to tackle the causes of the benefits bill – low pay, high rents, unemployment and ill-health. We will aim to increase the number of neighbourhood, community and parish councils and promote tenant management in social housing.
We will work to end the scandal of rough sleeping in our borough by increasing support for homelessness prevention and adequately funding age-appropriate emergency accommodation and supported housing, while ensuring that all local authorities have at least one provider of the Housing First model of provision for long-term, entrenched homeless people.