Having enjoyed an exchange between a Tory MP and an erudite, well informed squatter this morning on Breakfast TV (the squatter won, hands down), on the moves afoot to make squatting illegal, I thought I'd blog this morning about my views. Then I found that everyone has had their two pennyworth last week (do read the piece and the comments as the main article doesn't seem to represent many peoples views). So I thought I'd leave that on hold, and instead ponder where we were on our manifesto commitment to bring empty homes back into use.
We were the only one of the three major parties to have any commitment in their manifesto about empty homes, and this is what we said.
'The Liberal Democrats today set out plans to bring a quarter of a million empty homes back into use, making homes available for people who need them and creating 65,000 jobs.
There are over 760,000 empty properties across England which are no longer used as homes but can be brought back into use with some investment. People who own these homes will get a grant or a cheap loan to renovate them so they can be used: grants if the home is for social housing, loans for private use.
The plans form part of the economic stimulus package outlined as a core principle of the Liberal Democrat election manifesto. In the first year of the new Parliament, the party would redirect over £3.6bn of spending to create jobs and build up Britain’s infrastructure. In the following years this money will be redirected to other Lib Dem spending priorities and reducing the structural deficit.'
You can read here Alex Fosters excellent piece outlining why this policy is a win-win-win all round - benefiting the homeless, owners of empty properties, local authorities and the environment.
I think this is an excellent policy - and one largely being enacted, as Lib Dem Voice reported in January (although again it's interesting to see in the comments section that many fellow Lib Dems don't agree!).
But as usual - one that a quick Google search reveals we get little credit for as a party. There is an excelent summary of what Andrew Stunnell has been doing here.
But if, like me, your other half harangues you over breakfast at being part of a government attacking squatters rights rather than doing something about the homeless - at least you're better prepared to fight back if you read this blog...
Ironically, within seconds of posting this I got tweeted about a great piece on the same subject at LDV; it's very good...