January comment from Cllr Howard Sykes, LGA Lib Dem Group Leader

Are the tectonic plates starting to move on council housing? The cross-party House of Commons Treasury select committee has certainly seen the light and has just released a report calling on the housing borrowing cap to be abolished, echoing the long standing call from the LGA.

And at our spring conference next month, thanks to a motion which is being tabled by Liberal Democrat Councillors, the party will look to re-affirm our pledge to scrap the borrowing cap. It is by no means the only measure we need to get more socially rented and affordable housing built, but if we are to meet the target of 300,000 homes a year then this can only help.

We are calling for other steps – for example reform of legislation over empty homes and compulsory purchase orders, so councils have more power to deal with those properties. We’re saying that local government should have the power to direct the use of public owned land which is being sold off - including those owned by Whitehall departments – for socially rented or affordable housing. And also we will pledge to reform the Right to Buy – giving local councils the option on whether to continue with the scheme or not.

Only time will tell if the government will listen to the calls for reform – but Liberal Democrats will keep up the pressure for action.