The sight of homeless young people begging on our streets is now commonplace and is a warning of the sort of society we are becoming. The massive increase in homelessness in recent years is a direct result of government policy and the trend can be reversed.
The removal of housing benefits from those aged 16 and 17 has forced many young people onto the street. These benefits should be restored. Prompt payment of housing benefits and coverage of deposits would enable landlords to feel more secure in letting to people on state benefits.
Mortgage interest tax relief was originally a help to home buyers but in the long run it has simply fed through into higher house prices. We therefore support its phasing out and replacement by a housing credit available to all.
Just about everyone except the Conservatives agrees that local councils should be free to spend the receipts from council house sales on building more houses. In many areas there is also scope for better incentive schemes to encourage tenants occupying larger houses than they need, to move to smaller properties.
Taxes could be used to penalise the owners of empty accommodation in areas of acute housing need. Grants could be offered to encourage the conversion of properties not currently in use and to assist with the upgrading of substandard accommodation.
Various public sector bodies, for example the Ministry of Defence, have empty houses which could be brought into use.
The "foyer" system, which consists of small scale developments of flats and maisonettes run on a cooperative basis, provides the first rung on the housing ladder for young people. Self-build schemes and housing cooperatives could also be more used and deserve to be encouraged.
Liberals support a greater say for tenants in all aspects of the running of estates and, where appropriate, the transfer of power and responsibility for management to tenant co-operatives.