12 March 2012

In his blog Cornwall councillor Alex Folkes cries up what the Libdems have achieved in government. It’s thin gruel. I put a note about his claim for affordable housing at the foot of this post.

Overlooked Libdem achievements
This is a game we can all join. Let me repeat the achievements of the Libdems in government that are not mentioned, their overlooked achievements.

Cuts to local government funds
Abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales
Cuts to the funds of the Homes and communities agency (HCA) which supports new affordable housing and the improvement of existing social housing
Trying to sell off the public forest in England
Reactionary changes to social housing tenancies and rents – for example, enabling shortened tenancies and ‘affordable’ rents at up 80 percent of the market rent
Abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance in England
Enabling the increase of university tuition fees to a maximum of £9000 a year after loudly promising…oh, you know
Axing the planned extension to free school meals
Cuts and reactionary changes to housing and disability benefits
Ending the Building Schools for the Future program for England
Abolition of the Future Jobs Fund

Libdem crowning glory
To this must be added the NHS and the Libdem crowning glory of the Health and social care bill which the Libdems yes-but-no-but-yes support. Judith Jolly, a Libdem peer from Cornwall, spoke up for the bill at their recent Gateshead conference. Andrew George, the Libdem MP for St Ives, spoke against. He wrote last week that the bill was “largely unchanged” and “still not good enough”. He asked, “Is no Bill better than this improved, but still risky, one? Yes, I think so”.

At the end the bill will pass because the bulk of Libdem MPs and peers vote for it. It’s their bill. It’s one of their “achievements”.

Of course one or two Libdem MPs and peers have opposed these achievements.

Libdem affordable housing
One claim of Folkes is: “With the Liberal Democrats in government we have seen more than 150,000 affordable homes built across the UK” (11 March 2012). There are several difficulties with this.

I wonder whether this claim is a misreading of the panel on his post that gives the aim of the government to deliver up to 150 000 affordable houses by 2014/15

The aim was increased to up to 170 000 last July; the panel is out of date

Since housing is a devolved matter, the government figure refers only to England not the UK.

Flexible tenancies, which can be as short as two years, and ‘affordable’ rents of up to 80 percent of the market rent will presumably apply to these.

If something other than the aim of 170 000 houses in England over the four years of the spending review is meant, perhaps Folkes could explain.

Related post
Libdem watch which has more details or points to them