During the recession, we take the view that the Government have a responsibility to maintain the building of homes that people can afford and create some of the jobs that will help the country through it. That is why we announced last week an extra £1.5 billion to support building such homes, more scope for local authorities to manage their allocation policies in future and a bigger role for local government. That means more homes, fairer lets and meeting local needs.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that response and greatly welcome the Government’s continued commitment to investing in social housing. I am sure he realises that Plymouth is no exception to the pressing demand for more social housing. Does he also envisage a role for community land trusts in filling the gap in affordable and social housing?
There may indeed be a role for community land trusts in some areas. For example, in Plymouth, the Devonport new deal for communities is considering developing that sort of arrangement. We believe that community land trusts have an important part to play, and that is the reason for legislating last year in the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008, and for the availability of funding under the national affordable housing programme. We should respond to the consultation shortly.
Will the Minister acknowledge that there is an urgent requirement for more affordable housing in my constituency and many others in the south-east, but that the infrastructure simply does not exist to support it on the planned scale? Will he consider what can be done to increase the share of Government expenditure on infrastructure in the south-east, which currently receives an unfair deal from the Government?
The hon. Gentleman raises a broader question about funding for local councils, but he also gets to the heart of the matter. If he believes that his area needs more homes that people can afford to buy and rent, his council needs to play a part in the building programme that we are setting up—I hope he will urge it to do that and encourage it to bid. I also hope that he will make representations to his Front Benchers so that those budgets will not be cut in future.