Everyone should be able to afford a place to live in a safe, clean, and friendly neighbourhood. That’s not the reality for millions of people today.
The Conservatives have cut police budgets, leading to a rise in violent crime. They have failed to build the homes we need to stop the housing crisis. They have left too many families unable to make ends meet.
The Liberal Democrats demand better. People who play their part in the community should have the opportunity to get on in life.
Parents often want to take time out from paid work to care for young children but in many families both parents want, or have, to work. The costs of childcare can be prohibitive and opportunities for flexible working are scarce.
Liberal Democrats will reverse Conservative welfare policies that target the poor and vulnerable, recruit more community police officers and tackle the housing crisis by building 300,000 new homes each year, improving rights for renters and increasing funding for local authorities to prevent homelessness
In government, we were proud to introduce Shared Parental Leave and increases in free childcare but there are still gaps in the system. We will:
- Expand Shared Parental Leave with an additional ‘use it or lose it’ month to encourage fathers to take time off with young children. We would make Paternity and Shared Parental Leave a ‘day one’ right.
- Encourage employers to provide more flexible working, making this a ‘day one’ right, so that there is a presumption that work is flexible unless there is a clear business reason it cannot be.
- Provide 15 hours a week of free childcare to the parents of all two-year olds in England. We will then prioritise 15 hours’ free childcare for all working parents in England with children aged between nine months and two years.
- Commit to an ambitious long-term goal of 30 hours’ free childcare a week for all parents in England with children aged from two to four years, and all working parents from the end of paid parental leave to two years. This will not only help parents afford to work, but will also help all children start school confident, happy and ready to learn.
- Ensure that this provision is fully funded at sustainable levels, provides flexibility for parents who work unsocial hours, and enables parents to use free hours during school holidays
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 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:
- Directly build homes to fill the gap left by the market, to reach our house-building target of 300,000 homes a year, through a government commissioning programme to build homes for sale and rent. We will ensure that half a million affordable, energy-efficient homes are built by the end of the Parliament.
- Create at least ten new Garden Cities in England, providing tens of thousands of high-quality new zero carbon homes, with gardens and shared green space, jobs, schools and public transport.
- Set up a new government-backed British Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank with a remit including providing long-term capital for major new settlements and helping attract finance for major house building projects.
- End the Voluntary Right to Buy pilots that sell off Housing Association homes and the associated high value asset levy.
- Lift the borrowing cap on local authorities and increase the borrowing capacity of Housing Associations so that they can build council and social housing.
- Scrap exemptions on smaller housing development schemes from their obligation to provide affordable homes, and strengthen the hand of local government to prevent large developers reneging on their commitments.
- Require Local Plans to take into account at least 15 years of future housing need – focusing on long-term development and community needs.
- Create a Community Right of Appeal in cases where planning decisions go against the approved local plan.
- Enable local authorities to: - Levy up to 200% Council Tax on second homes and ‘buy to leave empty’ investments from overseas. - Enforce house-building on unwanted public sector land. - Penalise excessive land-banking when builders with planning permission have failed to build after 3 years. - End the Right to Buy if they choose.