Skip to main content

Social Housing

Volume 511: debated on Thursday 10 June 2010

12. What steps he plans to take to improve the standard of social housing; and if he will make a statement. (1546)

It is an astonishing but sad fact that after 13 years of a Labour Government there is a backlog of £3.2 billion to bring decent homes to all social housing, and that is in the context of the previous Chief Secretary to the Treasury leaving a note saying that he was afraid that there was no money—or, as my brief says, future funding for the decent homes programme will be decided in the context of the Government's spending review.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his inept answer. Could he possibly tell me how he intends to find the money to help social housing? His party stood on a manifesto to try to help people who needed help, unlike the party that he joined in coalition, which did not give a toss about the poor people.

The coalition Government and the agreement make it clear that we have a firm commitment to dealing with social and affordable housing to bring housing up to standard. We have the job of making sure that we can do that in an affordable way while getting Britain back on its feet. The hon. Gentleman’s Government caused the problem; we are giving the solutions.

It is a question not just of the standards of housing but of the legacy. After the last couple of decades of development in social housing, there is a desperate shortage of three and four-bedroomed family houses. There are a lot of families in my constituency and throughout the country who are crammed into one and two-bedroomed houses. It is simply unacceptable. It has an enormous impact on their lives and children’s life chances. Will the Government be addressing that as well?

The question is about social housing, and of course my hon. Friend is right that we must have the right mix of accommodation in each local area. One thing that we are making clear is that local areas should take the decision, and that local bids should be made.

May I start by congratulating the new Minister on being appointed to work in my old office? He has a great team of civil servants, and it was a privilege to work with them. I congratulate also the new Housing Minister on his promotion, but it is a real shame that he, along with the Prime Minister and, this week, the Chancellor, should choose to use their first appearances at the Dispatch Box to give such inaccurate information about the housing pledge that the previous Government announced two years ago. The Housing Minister knows full well that the costs were agreed with the Treasury and would have been met with £340 million from capital under-spends in other Departments and £540 million in greater departmental flexibilities. If that had not been the case, the Government’s accounting officer would have prevented us from making the announcement. If that pledge—[Interruption.]

Order. The hon. Gentleman should resume his seat. I think that we have got the thrust of it. We are pretty clear.

Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman is wrong, and, as it will become clear when statements are made in the emergency Budget and elsewhere, we are putting the financial package back together again.