Lib Dems bid to resurrect social housing schemes shelved by Labour

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have come up with ambitious and progressive plans to resurrect social housing schemes in the city shelved by Labour.

They claim their ideas will allow a £6 million development for 34 new council homes in Anstey Way to be revived.

And plans for 10 new social homes in Akeman Street can also go-ahead without draining too much money from council reserves, they say.

They propose part-financing the Anstey Way project by selling some of the new properties on the general market thereby subsidising the building costs of the remainder.

Their idea would also allow Akeman Street to progress keeping some reserves for future schemes. 

It is intended that the council should have first option to buy the general market properties through its new General Fund Housing Company, letting them out at intermediate or market rents to help protect its finances in the early years of the scheme.

Additionally, if the Housing Company failed or did not want the houses in the future the council could still hold onto them with an option to buy them through the Housing Revenue Account.   

The council has a number of other possible housing sites that have stalled due to lack of funding and it is hoped that this proposal will allow these projects to be revived providing more social housing.

Cambridge Lib Dem spokesperson for housing Nick Avery, who represents Trumpington, said: “Labour have been blaming the Government for its cuts to social housing finance for the reason projects have stalled in Cambridge. We agree that the attack on social housing budgets is despicable but we shouldn’t be sitting back when we can fight this.

“When we ran the city council we financed social housing by selling some properties on the general market. Of course it would be nice to maximise social housing in the short term but that just ignores the harsh realities of Tory Government policy.

“We believe this is the right way to go at this time; it gives us the money to provide social housing now without draining our reserves and allows us to build the homes that are desperately needed.

“The Government has made it more difficult for social house building but with the right approach it is possible. We hope that Labour will look at our proposals for what they are and not accept defeat at the hands of this government.”

The Lib Dems’ plans are set out in an amendment to the Housing Revenue Account Budget Setting Report.

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