Liberal Democrats Uphold 380,000 Yearly Housing Target Despite Dissent

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Despite party leadership’s proposed adjustments, Liberal Democrat members have upheld the goal for annual housebuilding in England. The existing target, set at 380,000 new homes per year across all sectors, faced potential dismantlement by party leaders who deemed it ineffective in advancing the housing situation.

This announcement came to light during the party’s conference in Bournemouth, where youthful activists championed the motion to retain the target. They vocally cautioned against eliminating the overarching goal, asserting that such a move may risk estranging younger voters.

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A leaflet supporting the activists’ motion presaged a problematic political future if the target were dropped, implying that the Labour Party would exploit this in marginal seats. It also warned against replicating past errors, harking back to the party’s infamous broken promise on university funding, hinting, “Don’t let housing become our next tuition fees.”

Party leaders had previously suggested substituting the broad figure with ‘independently assessed’ targets for local authorities, tailored to suit specific area needs. They aimed to commit to constructing 150,000 social homes annually in England and enforce ‘binding’ affordable housing targets for councils. Helen Morgan, the party’s housing spokeswoman, declared these England-wide targets had significantly failed to deliver the homes we need”.

However, the Young Liberals, a group within the party, proposed keeping the target, interpreting it into attainable local objectives. This retention, they claimed, demonstrates the party’s commitment to solving the ongoing housing crisis. The group’s chair, Janey Little, underscored that housing had become excessively expensive for the younger generation and this target illustrates the party’s attentiveness to their struggles.

Despite dissenting voices, such as former leader Tim Farron who labelled the target as “vague and vacuous”, members ultimately rallied behind the amendment. Farron’s suggestion that this could provide an “electoral gift for the Tories” was largely disregarded by conference attendees.

Looking ahead, the Lib Dems anticipate targeting a host of Conservative-held seats in the next election throughout southern and southwestern England. This news comes amidst the government’s plans to significantly dilute housing targets, sparking both concern and opposition.

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