Matthew Handley

party: Green Party
constituency: Coventry North East

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The standards of goods and services that are essential, such as food and water, are generally highly regulated. Do you support enforced minimum standards in housing as a precondition of a renting?

organisation: Generation Rent

There is a place for a private rented sector. But experience shows that it needs to be well regulated and the difference in power
between landlord and tenant corrected. We would:
• Reform the private rented sector by introducing a ‘living rent’ tenancy (including five-year fixed tenancy agreements), smart rent
control that caps annual rent increases linked to the Consumer Price Index, security of tenancy and local not-for-profit letting
agencies, and abolishing letting agents’ fees and insurance-based deposit schemes.
• Set up a Living Rent Commission to explore whether controls could bring rents more in line with local average incomes.
• Introduce a mandatory licensing scheme for landlords.
• Abolish landlord perks, such as tax deductions against a variety of expenditures, including mortgage interest relief. Ending
mortgage interest tax relief alone will raise £5.8 billion a year.
• Increase the supply of small lets by raising the tax-free amount under the Rent a Room Scheme to £7,250 a year.
• Abolish the ‘bedroom tax’, which has saved less than £400 million a year. A Department for Work and Pensions report found that
more than half of affected tenants have cut back on essentials, and only 1 in 20 has downsized.
• Bring Housing Benefit for all age groups back in line with average market rents, so that it provides all citizens with the means to
meet their housing costs, costing £2.3 billion a year.
• Subject the Shared Accommodation Rate to a comprehensive review to ensure it reflects the real cost of renting
shared properties.
• Change the definition of affordable rented housing to depend on local median incomes and not on local market rents.

Home energy improvement will be central to our drive to accelerate energy saving while ensuring energy is affordable to all.
We will:
• Provide a free nationwide retrofit insulation programme, concentrating on areas where fuel poverty is most serious. This is
designed to insulate 9 million homes in total and take at least 2 million homes out of fuel poverty, aiming for the Passivhaus ultra
low-energy refurbishment standard by 2020. It will offer up to £5,000 worth of free insulation, or other energy improvements
such as solar photovoltaics (PV) if the insulation is already up to the standard, to every home in designated areas. To reach
Passivhaus standards, there will be the option of up to a further £15,000 in subsidised loans from the Green Investment Bank
for each dwelling for further improvements. This programme will invest £45 billion over the course of the Parliament (including
investment in training and awareness), be delivered by local authorities and create well over 100,000 jobs. It will become part of
a new Green National Infrastructure programme.
• Give tenants the right to require landlords to achieve the same improvement to the energy performance of their home, and
require all private rented sector housing to meet Energy Performance Band C by 2025.
• Require all new homes to be built to the Passivhaus standard.
• Support this investment in insulating and building to Passivhaus standards with investment in training for the design and building
industries, by creating a national college for training in energy home improvement, and building relationships with a network of
affiliated facilities, including existing colleges and private training providers.

The right of parents to remain with their children in hospital has been established for over forty years. How would you ensure carers of people with dementia are equally welcome in hospital?

organisation: John's Campaign

Health and the NHS is an area which I and the Green Party as a whole feel very strongly about, we recognise the great need for more joined up thinking and action on things like palliative and social care which is why we have committed to the policies of free social care for the over 65's and £12bn extra investment into the NHS whilst ending the creeping privatisation of our health care service.

We want people suffering from dementia to be able to continue their lives in their own homes, with the support they need and to have ready access to the medical help they will inevitably require. In addition I would press for legislation to be passed that enshrines in law the rights of those carers who look after those with dementia to be equal to those rights of parents with children who are in need of hospital care.

To what degree should access to information on the internet be restricted by the state or private companies?

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

The Green Party is opposed to all forms of censorship in the media and cultural activities for adults. The state and persons holding positions of power to control activities shall not censor freedom of artistic expression or freedom of speech. Where there is a conflict between the right to free expression or speech and the responsibility not to cause offence this should be dealt with by allowing the offended person equal right of reply.

How would you reform surveillance law, oversight and practice to respect the rights of law-abiding people?

organisation: Open Rights Group (ORG)

The Green Party of England and Wales believes that illegal mass surveillance must be opposed. The Green Party will campaign against such surveillance and will act to protect whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden who oppose illegal intrusion by the state.

As a party we have long called for the creation of a digital bill of rights which would enshrine in law the basic right to privacy and control over ones personal data, censorship would not be allowed and “secret mass surveillance of the type exposed by Edward Snowden would be opposed. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) would be repealed as it allows for the unaccountable use of such surveillance by the police services.

Should people in Scotland and Northern Ireland have the same free speech protections from libel bullies as their neighbours in England and Wales?

organisation: English PEN

The Green Party is opposed to all forms of censorship in the media and cultural activities for adults. The state and persons holding positions of power to control activities shall not censor freedom of artistic expression or freedom of speech. Where there is a conflict between the right to free expression or speech and the responsibility not to cause offence this should be dealt with by allowing the offended person equal right of reply.

Governments implement policies that directly and indirectly impact on house prices. Do you think house prices are too high?

organisation: Generation Rent

House prices continue to rise quicker than wages and inflation, and first-time buyers find it almost impossible to buy a home. If wages
had gone up by as much as house prices since 1997, the average person would be earning almost £30,000 more a year.
When house prices crash there are consequences for the whole economy.
The Green Party will aim for house price stability by making property investment and speculation less attractive and by increasing
housing supply. We will:
• Give the Bank of England the powers it has requested to limit the size of mortgages in relation to the property value and the
borrower’s income.
• Take steps to ensure that development is more evenly distributed across the whole of the country, so reducing pressure on
housing in the South East in particular.
• Make ‘buy to let’ less attractive, so reducing pressure on house prices, by removing tax incentives, including the deduction of
mortgage interest as an expense, and reforming the ‘wear and tear’ allowance.
• Introduce new higher Council Tax bands for more expensive homes, with higher rates for empty homes.
• Scrap the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which does nothing to help those in the greatest housing need and contributes to
excessive demand, saving £600 million a year.
• Take action on empty homes to bring them back into use. There are about 700,000 empty homes. Halve this number through
Empty Property Use Orders.
• Gradually phase out Stamp Duty Land Tax and consider a Land Value Tax.
• Minimise encroachment onto undeveloped ‘greenfield sites’ wherever possible by reusing previously developed sites that have
fallen into disuse.