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Social Housing

Volume 534: debated on Monday 31 October 2011

4. What estimate he has made of the number of social housing units occupied by people earning over £100,000 per annum. (77097)

We estimate that there are about 6,000 households in social housing where the person named on the tenancy agreement and their partner have a combined income over £100,000 a year—something we intend to tackle through the pay to stay scheme, whereby those on six-figure incomes who wish to stay in their properties can pay to stay there.

The 2,345 people currently on the housing waiting list in Cannock Chase will be gobsmacked to learn that an estimated 6,000 people still living in council houses are paying a subsidised rent despite earning more than £100,000 a year—four times the average salary of my constituents. With so many people in need of housing languishing on waiting lists, what assurances can the Minister give me and my constituents that those people who earn more than him will be forced to pay their way like the rest of us?

My hon. Friend points out a real problem with the housing system—that it is possible to earn a six-figure salary, sit on the Labour Benches and still occupy a home built for some of the most vulnerable people in society, who deserve those homes. We will allow the pay to stay scheme to go ahead, meaning that people can stay in their homes and pay the market rent so that we can use all the money to build more affordable homes for people who really need them.

If the Government are so keen on restricting social housing to those on low incomes, how does the Minister explain the affordable rent regime? Is it not the case that in local authorities such as my own, even at 65% of market rents, the income required—without benefit—to pay for an affordable family-sized house is £77,000 a year?

We are keen to protect people on low incomes, not on high ones, as the hon. Lady suggested. The point about the housing benefit changes is that many of her constituents, along with mine and everyone else’s, will be asking how it can be fair for people in receipt of housing benefit to live in homes and streets that people on ordinary salaries cannot possibly afford to live in. That is the system that we are going to fix; when the Opposition were in government, they used to support that policy.

I can provide a little more information. We expect some tens of millions of pounds to be raised by pay to stay. Those with six-figure incomes will pay a market rent to stay in their homes, and we will use every single penny of the money to build the more affordable housing that the most vulnerable people in society deserve and need.