Response to the panel recommendations by St Ives Liberal Democrats

Recommendation 1 and sub-points: Address Street homeless

  • Restoring the grant money that was cut by Cornwall Council
  • Provision of mobile or fixed night shelters
  • Warden supported accommodation for young people
  • Early intervention on mental health
  • Provision of emergency accommodation for families within Cornwall (not outside)
  • Work with Rebuild South West

We support most of the sub-points made here – and most of  which we feel can be addressed by Cornwall Council.

With regard to the rest of the recommendations we find there is a strong overlap with policy positions we have already endorsed in our manifesto. These are shown in italics:

Recommendation 2. & 18: £10 per hour minimum wage, guaranteed hours, options for employees re: Zero hours contracts.

Our 2019 Manifesto proposed 20% higher wage for zero hours contract/agency workers while regulating for them to have right to request fixed hours contract after 12 months.

Establish independent review body to consult on setting a “genuine” Living Wage.

Restore Sure Start centres (many have been axed).

We have no explicit policy on these. Our Manifesto proposed 35 hours per week free childcare for 48 weeks a year for UK children aged 9 months to 5 years, and £1 billion investment in the existing Childrens’ Centres.

Recommendation 4: Implement large-scale Social housing programme in Cornwall.

Nationally, the pledge is to build 100K Social homes (homes for rent at social rents.) Locally, this is already Cornwall Council policy and it is now allowed to borrow capital to finance this; the number of such homes built has doubled since 2017 and a larger- scale building programme is in progress. Ultimately, quantity will depend on the availability of land but also on the contribution made by central Government.

Recommendations 5 & 20. Universal Credit- replace/reform.

Manifesto pledges are to scrap the two child limit and the child benefit cap. Restore work allowances, introduce a “2nd earner” allowance for each family.

Recommendation 6 Unfreeze local Housing allowance.

Agreed. Our manifesto pledge is to boost local Housing allowance by linking to local average rents level.

Recommendation 7: Double Council Tax on 2nd Homes/holiday lets- close tax loopholes associated with these.

Andrew George’s successful conference motion in Sept 2018. Local authorities to be empowered to charge up to 500% more Council Tax on owners. Cornwall Council resolved to demand Westminster grant it powers to control growth of 2nd/holiday home sector and control tax levels. National LD policy is to scrap business rates and replace with a tax on the owners of property being leased to businesses.

Recommendation 8: Treat Housing as national infrastructure, and tie in accompanying provision of services and community resources, e.g. increased school, surgery and transport access or provision.

Arguably, (see point 4) Liberal Democrat policy does indeed regard Housing as critical national infrastructure. 

Recommendation 9: Right to buy: suspend it until Cornwall Social housing stock reaches parity with average UK levels.

2019 Manifesto pledge: devolve control of Right To Buy  to local Councils.

Recommendations 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. Rent controls, end Section 21 ‘no- fault evictions’, action on shorthold tenancies, enforcement against ‘rogue landlords’, create tenant panels to empower tenants re: decisions affecting them made by LAs, Housing associations etc.

2019 Manifesto: bring in controls on annual rent increases, linked to Inflation. “Improve protections against Rogue Landlords through mandatory licensing of Landlords.” “Fully recognise tenant panels so that renters have a voice in Landlord Governance.” Conference motion, Sept 2019: scrap Section 21 No-Fault evictions.

Recommendation 18 Planning controls to avoid ‘Ghost towns’- preserve cohesive communities.

Nationally: we have nothing specific on this. Locally we would need to consult with County Councillors.  

Recommendation 19 Restore CAB funding. Response:

We are not sure whether this is best addressed at the local or national level – probably both!

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