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House Building Targets

Volume 502: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2009

14. What account the Government took of the economic situation in setting their targets for house building. (304610)

There has long been a mismatch between the supply and building of new homes and the demand for those homes. That mismatch led the Government to consider and set the house building targets in the first place. Clearly, the situation has got worse as a result of the global economic downturn, with the demand and need for housing continuing to grow and, particularly in the private sector, the level of building falling through the floor. That is why we stepped in over the summer to put extra money—£1.5 billion—into building the homes we need right across the country.

But surely the economic crisis and the subsequent fall in net immigration that we saw as a consequence has caused a reduction in forecast demand for new housing need. Can the Minister therefore now reduce the target for new housing need so that we can increase the protection of our green belt, which is most important to our constituents?

I said a moment ago that there was a long-term mismatch between the houses we are building and the demand and need for them. Taken over the long term, that continues. Migration is cyclical. It is a relatively small part, but a part nevertheless, of the projections of the need for housing in future. A bigger factor is demographic change in our own country, with the number of households increasing, people growing older and living for longer, and the need for greater mobility within Britain. We are trying to ensure that we can build the homes to meet those factors in future.

My right hon. Friend is right—there is a mismatch. The mismatch in Chorley is between lots of house building but no social housing; the council collects section 106 money for social housing but never spends it. What is he going to do to ensure that social housing is provided in the Chorley constituency?

I am disappointed to hear my hon. Friend’s report about his local council and the attitude it is taking towards affordable housing. I have to say that this is not the first time I have been disappointed to hear his reports about Chorley borough council. There is a great deal more that it can and should do to ensure that the affordable homes needed in his constituency are provided. It can play a much greater role in that, and I hope he will not cease in his campaign to try to ensure that it does so.