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Cable flags land auctions

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Business secretary Vince Cable has hailed the controversial policy of allowing councils to auction land with planning permission as a means of boosting funding for social housing.

Delivering his speech to the Liberal Democrat party conference on Monday, Dr Cable cited the policy - once described as “communist” by communities secretary Eric Pickles - as one way in which the government could act to provide a stimulus to the economy.

In a speech that centred on “stability, stimulus and solidarity”, Dr Cable claimed the immediate threat to growth was a lack of demand stemming from consumers, companies and governments all cutting spending at the same time leading to what economist John Maynard Keynes described as “a paradox of thrift”.

While much responsibility rested on the Bank of England to “relax monetary policy further linked to small business lending”, Dr Cable also insisted the government could act and should “adopt the Liberal Democrat policy to allow councils to auction land with planning permission using the proceeds for social housing”.

The government had announced plans to pilot land auctions in this year’s Budget. However, LGC understands the plans have been delayed by the row over the government’s National Planning Policy Framework.

Dr Cable also pointed out there are “tens of billions of pounds of British savings in pension funds and insurance companies ready to invest in transport and energy”.

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