We have estimated, based on data taken from the last three English housing surveys, that between 1,000 and 5,000 social tenant households earn over £100,000 per annum. We have consulted on proposals to charge these households a fairer rent and will respond to this consultation by the end of March.
My right hon. Friend will realise that speaking from a position where I am privileged to represent more council tenants than any other English MP, I recognise that council tenancies are very valuable and appreciated. However, given the length of the queue, a lot of people feel that it is wrong for those with an income in six figures to have the privilege of security of tenure and not to pay a higher price for that privilege. May I encourage him to see whether he can find a solution to this long-running problem?
My right hon. Friend first raised this issue on the Floor of the House in 1988, and I am sure that, 24 years later, he is delighted that the coalition is listening to him. He is absolutely right: we have to make better use of affordable housing. That is why we have consulted on the issue and why we are going to build more affordable housing.
Nor can I, Mr Speaker—I am trying to think of something, but I cannot.
My local council thinks that £40,000 should be the cut-off figure and that that will solve the housing crisis. However, it has just responded to a freedom of information request from me by stating that, in the past five years, it has let just under 8,000 properties and that only nine of those can be identified as for people on incomes of more than £40,000. Is this not just a smokescreen to cover up the fact that council properties are being sold off when they become empty, knocked down and not replaced, and that measures such as the Growth and Infrastructure Bill are actually reducing the availability of affordable accommodation? This is a piece of nonsense and propaganda.
If the hon. Gentleman wants to talk about nonsense, he should remember that, under the Labour Government, 421,000 affordable homes went out of use. Under this Government, the right to buy is being strengthened so that there is a one-for-one replacement. In addition, we are building more affordable homes and more homes for rent.