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Affordable Housing

Volume 511: debated on Thursday 10 June 2010

13. What steps he plans to take to increase the supply of affordable housing in areas of high demand. (1547)

We recognise that there is a continued need for affordable housing, and we remain committed to its provision. When we announced on 24 May the £6.2 billion of savings to tackle the deficit, we made available £170 million to safeguard the delivery of about 4,000 otherwise unfunded social rented homes, starting on site this year and prioritising provision for the most vulnerable. Decisions on future levels of funding for affordable housing will be made in the spending review.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Given his professed support for social housing, will he explain why the Homes and Communities Agency has put a moratorium on all spending on new council housing, including the site in central Bristol on which work was planned to go ahead?

As the hon. Lady will know, the moratorium is in existence until the emergency Budget is announced, and I cannot go much further than that at this point. However, the reason why there will be an emergency Budget, and the reason why there is a moratorium, is that there is not enough money to complete the programme that was put in train by the Opposition’s Front Benchers when they were in government.

Does the Minister agree that, although the previous Government made lots of pledges, the problem is that they never lived up to them?

Why did Ministers not make an announcement about the first £230 million of cuts to the affordable housing investment programme instead of sneaking them out on the Homes and Communities Agency website? Do they not accept that the hardest-hit areas are the poorest, and that the poorest families will be hit first? Given that the Prime Minister said this week that the Government’s cuts will be open, responsible and fair, can the Minister not see that that fails each one of those three tests?

I shall not be quite so quick to do so this time. The fact is that we have tried to do our work in a measured and careful way to protect the vulnerable, as the coalition agreement set out. That is what we are about. That is what we are doing.