Crisis at the Liberal Democrat party conference
On Sunday 18 September Crisis held a successful event at the Liberal Democrat party conference entitled 'No place like home: Where next for housing and homelessness?'
As well as Crisis Director of Policy and External Affairs, Duncan Shrubsole, the speakers were MPs Simon Hughes and Stephen Gilbert and Lib Dem peer Lord Shipley.
Speaking to a packed room, the speakers agreed that housing and homelessness must be a priority issue for the party and the government, and that in particular doing more for single homeless people, reforming the private rented sector, building more affordable housing and challenging the most damaging cuts to housing benefit were key issues that must be dealt with.
Chairing the meeting, Shrubsole said that housing policy has to be "at the heart of Britain's economic and political recovery". Stephen Gilbert agreed and argued particularly against changes to the Shared Accommodation Rate of Housing Benefit that will cause thousands of single 25 to 34 year olds to lose their homes, including areas such as Mr Gilbert's constituency where alternative accommodation will be difficult if not impossible to find.
Speaking as the MP with the highest proportion of social housing in his constituency of any in England, Simon Hughes argued that too often it is single people who miss out when it comes to accommodation. He also made a plea for better regulation of the private rented sector to tackle poor standards of housing and landlords who do not prioritise the needs of their tenants.
Lord Shipley also argued in favour of better regulation, pointing out that regulation of private lettings agents is even supported by reputable lettings agents themselves. All speakers concluded with a call for more social and affordable housing to be built.