The Sustainable Communities Plan set out a long-term programme of activity designed to achieve a step change in our policies for delivering sustainable communities for all by increasing housing supply, housing market renewal, providing more decent and affordable homes for all, ensuring the right infrastructure is provided, delivering on new growth areas and improving the countryside and local environment.
We have made considerable progress and are going further still to meet the challenges outlined in the plan. For example:
We have reduced the number of non-decent social homes by more than 1 million, and increased the proportion of vulnerable households in the private sector who have a decent home by 66 per cent. In total over £20 billion of public money has been invested in improving council housing since 1997, and over £40 billion in total will have been invested by the end of 2010.
Across the country, we are more than doubling investment in affordable housing through the Housing Corporation to £2 billion per year by 2008. By 2010 we will have helped 120,000 households into low cost home ownership through our Homebuy scheme and over 160,000 households to access home ownership through private or public shared equity schemes.
Combined with London, the four growth areas and the 29 new growth points have the potential to deliver an extra 300,000 homes above previously planned levels by 2016.
Around £400 million is to be allocated by 2008 (since 2003-04) from the Communities and Local Government’s Growth Area Fund (GAF) to support the objectives of sustainable development in the three newer growth areas and we are providing £40 million in 2007-08 for a first round of infrastructure projects and to support growth-related studies, masterplanning and capacity-building in the new growth points.
Since 2003 we have allocated £850 million to accelerate the growth of the Thames Gateway. Most of these funds are committed.
Kate Barker, in her Review of Housing Supply (published in 2004), concluded that the housing market had not responded sufficiently to meet the needs of the country’s ageing and growing population and recommended a step change in housing supply. In its response, published in December 2005, the Government set out an ambition to increase the supply of new homes to 200,000 per year by 2016. Alongside the Barker response, the Government announced a cross-cutting review of funding for infrastructure to support housing growth, and stronger measures for environmental sustainability. In December 2006 we further enhanced our commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment and tackling climate change by introducing a number of new environmental initiatives such as the Code for Sustainable Homes and PPS on climate change that aim to deliver more sustainable development.
This work continues and the Department for Communities and Local Government is tasked with delivering prosperous and cohesive communities, offering a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for all.
Details of the Department’s achievements, including action to take forward the proposals set out in the Five Year Plans of the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, are set out in the 2006 annual report (Cm 6816). Copies are available in the Library of the House.