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Lib Dem manifesto: retrofit handouts and VAT cuts for refurbs pledged

The Lib Dems have promised to slash VAT on refurbishment and pledged up to £10,000 to retrofit every home over the next decade

The party’s election manifesto, which was unveiled today, also outlines plans to ‘ensure every new home is fully energy efficient by improving building regulation’.

According to the document, the 10 year programme of energy efficiency improvements, with its packages of up to £10,000 per house, will be funded through a pay-as-you-save scheme.

The news that the Lib Dems intend to ‘equalise VAT on new build and repair on an overall revenue-neutral basis’ will no doubt be welcomed by campaigners, including the RIBA which has battled to get the rate for domestic refurbishment and renovation work slashed to five per cent.

The manifesto reads: ‘[We want to ] protect greenfield land and our built heritage by reducing the cost of repairs’.

In planning the party has promised to create a new ‘third-party right of appeal’ in cases where decisions ‘go against locally agreed plans’.

The key points summarised:

Local/ and regional government

  • Strip back Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to focus solely on economic development, removing duplication with other parts of government and allowing substantial budget reductions.
  • Scrap the Government Offices for the Regions and regional ministers.
  • Give local authorities significant new powers through as per the findings of the Calman Commission

Energy and Climate Change

  • Introduce a 10 year programme of energy efficiency improvements, with packages of up to £10,000 per home through pay-as-you-save
  • Ensure every new home is fully energy-efficient by improving building regulations.
  • Encourage community-owned renewable energy schemes where local people benefit from the power produced.
  • Target of 40% of energy from clean, non-carbon sources by 2020 and 100% by 2050
  • Run an ‘eco cash back scheme for one year, with £400 per home towards cost of double glazing, new boiler or micro-generation
  • Introduce more attractive rates on feed-in-tariffs than on current government plans

 Housing

  • Bring 250,000 empty homes back into use with cheap loans and grants as part of our job creation plan
  • Investigate possibility of giving councils greater freedom to raise funds against their assets, to fund new social housing and allow councils to keep proceeds of the Housing Revenue Account
  • Seek to provide a greater degree of subsidy as resources allow to increase the number of new sustainable homes being built. 

Infrastructure

  • Set up a UK Infrastructure Bank to invest in public transport like  high speed rail.
  • Abolish the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return decision making, including housing targets, to local people.
  • Create a third-party right of appeal in cases where planning decisions go against locally agreed plans.
  • Reduce the cost of long-term funding as compared with the Private Finance Initiative.

VAT

  • Equalise VAT on new build and repair on an overall revenue-neutral basis.

Schools

  • Set aside extra money for schools to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings. Loans will be paid over time from energy savings, creating a rolling fund to help insulate other public buildings.
  • Abolish the Higher Education Funding Council for England

Arts

  • Set up a ‘Creative Enterprise Fund’ offering training, mentoring and small grants or loans to help creative businesses get off the ground

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