Ed Miliband on affordable housing and solar power

Martyn Oates
Political editor, South West

image captionEd Miliband admitted Labour were late to address the affordable housing crisis

In an interview with me to mark the Labour party conference, Ed Miliband admitted the last Labour government had been too late in tackling the affordable housing crisis.

He stopped short, though, of spilling the beans on the party's latest big idea for housing, unveiled shortly afterwards by the Shadow Chancellor.

We also discussed the feed-in tariff subsidy for solar energy.

Created by the same Ed Miliband when Energy Secretary, this proved fantastically popular in the South West.

So much so, indeed, that Cornwall Council confidently predicted a £1 billion "solar gold rush" west of the Tamar alone.

This proved to be tempting fate.

Energy matters

The coalition may have committed itself to keeping Labour's feed-in tariff - but it swiftly set about slashing the amount of money payable and excluding larger energy producers altogether.

Ministers argued that the original subsidy levels had become unsustainable; that there had been a far greater take-up than foreseen; and that the feed-in tariff had never been intended to benefit large-scale operators.

If the latter is true, it suggests Labour had drafted the original rules very sloppily indeed, allowing big companies a loophole through which they could glut themselves on subsidies earmarked for small community ventures.

I put this to the father of the feed-in tariff and I think he denied it.

Listen for yourself...