Last month, I announced that all future rounds of funding for house building in this country—under the new housing pledge and the affordable housing programme—will require those taking the Government grant to have in place apprenticeship schemes. This means that, over this year and next, we will be able to create an additional 3,000 apprenticeship places across the country.
I recently visited the further education college in my constituency. It is getting a new campus, and it will train the new generation of construction workers. While I was there looking at the new building, however, I was lobbied by some of the mature students. They asked whether there would be any jobs for them, and whether there would be any homes for them. In west Cheshire, 13,000 people are waiting for housing. What more can be done to encourage local authorities to bring forward their surplus sites?
If my hon. Friend wants to take a message directly to her own local authority, it should be this. It should bid for the funds we are making available for building; it should drive a harder bargain with its private developers; it should encourage housing associations in the area to build more homes; and it should be ready to give the go-ahead to sensible developments that will lead to the sort of homes that people need in my hon. Friend’s area and to house building that can bring jobs for the people she was talking to at her local college.