The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto out th is week shows the party will place much emphasis on housebuilding and green measures to lower Britain’s carbon emissions.
The Lib Dems will 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.
If the party wins power following the general election on 6 May, measures will be put in place to bring 250,000 empty homes back into use.
People who own these homes will get a grant or a low-cost loan to renovate them so that they can be occupied – grants if the home is for social housing purposes, loans for private use.
The party will protect greenfield land and the UK’s built heritage by reducing the cost of repairs. VAT on new-build and repair will be equalised on an overall revenueneutral basis.
This will also help to reduce the costs of repairs to historic buildings.
Schemes for affordable homes like equity mortgages and Home on the Farm, which encourage farmers to convert existing buildings into affordable housing, will be promoted.
Money will also be set aside for schools to make improvements to the energy efficiency of their buildings.They will pay back the loan over time from energy savings, creating a rolling fund to help insulate other public buildings.
A new 10-year programme of home insulation will be introduced, offering a home energy improvement package of up to £10,000 per home, paid for by the savings from lower energy bills, and make sure every new home is fully energy-efficient by improving building regulations.
The Lib Dems said it will begin its term in office with a one-year economic stimulus package to boost the economy and create jobs for those who need them.
The party highlighted environmental issues in every chapter of its manifesto document,
stating: “Liberal Democrats believe that protecting the environment is one of the greatest challenges this generation faces.
“We must hand on to our children a planet worth living on.
“That requires action across government – this is everybody’s responsibility, not just one climate change minister’s.”