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Liberal Democrats launch new plans to rebuild social housing and rescue the construction industry

February 26, 2009 3:10 PM

The Liberal Democrats have launched new plans to greatly increase the supply of social housing, stem the tide of repossessions and rescue the beleaguered construction industry.

The new plans include:

· Introducing a Repair and Renewal loan scheme for owners of empty properties if they agree to lease them for at least five years to housing associations

· Allowing commercial properties temporarily being used for housing to claim commercial property rate relief

· Helping lending to return to normal levels by introducing basic 'Safestart' mortgages

· Allowing housing associations and local authorities to use Homes and Communities Agency funds to improve newly purchased unsold private housing stock

· Slowing repossessions by ensuring courts make them the absolute last resort

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Teather said:

"Millions of families have been let down by Labour's housing failures. As the recession deepens, social housing queues are growing ever longer while the construction industry has ground to a halt.

"Renovating empty and abandoned properties can provide low cost homes while boosting the struggling construction sector.

"Councils and housing associations must be able to access funds to bring abandoned properties back into use.

"Companies with empty commercial property need incentives to make it available for temporary housing, which will provide cheap accommodation and prevent it from falling into disrepair."

Commenting further, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable said:

"We are now facing a repeat of the Tory recession of the 1990s, with tens of thousands of families facing repossession in the year ahead.

"With only a small portion of the 75,000 houses that are predicted to be repossessed in 2009 covered by the Government's scheme, there is a real danger that we will see thousands of people kicked out of their homes over the next 12 months.

"It is critical, not only for those who may lose their homes but also for the wider economy, that we have a comprehensive plan to ensure that repossession is only ever a last resort.

"In the future, people must have access to low risk, simple mortgages which ensure that those who have sensible deposits are protected from negative equity."