With £19.5 billion of public and private investment, our affordable homes programme is on track to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes by March 2015. In addition, the introduction of self-financing for local authority housing provides authorities with flexibility to increase supply.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, but will he consider also instructing the Homes and Communities Agency to allow councils and registered social landlords to switch grant funding from sites where progress has been delayed to other sites where the prospect of an early start on the ground is better, so that we can have the social and council housing that we so desperately need?
I am sure my hon. Friend will welcome the funds made available for 717 new affordable homes in his area. I know he is concerned about the Trumpington Meadows development. The Homes and Communities Agency is in discussion with the developers and we entirely accept my hon. Friend’s suggestion that, in the appropriate circumstances, the HCA could transfer the funding to another developer in the nearby locality.
Stockport Homes is rated as one of the best housing organisations in the country, but it is not going to be allowed to bid for funds from the 2013-17 affordable homes guarantees programme, which I understand will be open only to those classified as being in the private sector, such as independent housing associations. This will adversely affect the building of badly needed affordable homes in Stockport. Will the Minister meet a delegation of all Stockport MPs so that we can discuss our concerns with him?
As a member of Kettering borough council, may I share with the Minister the fact that the council has one of the best records in the whole of the east midlands on the delivery of affordable housing? For seven of the last eight years, it has provided an additional 100 affordable homes a year, and in three of those years, a level twice that.
I am delighted to congratulate people in Kettering and the neighbouring area on that. I hope that the new homes bonus is providing an additional incentive, and we have of course recently brought on stream the £10 billion loan guarantee scheme, which will help to provide funding for further such homes.
The all-party Treasury Select Committee, the Governor of the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund have all expressed concern that the Government’s policies will not build the homes our country needs. With the comprehensive spending review but three weeks away, the shadow Chancellor persuasively argued this morning that the Government should reject the economic illiteracy of austerity, which is pushing up the costs of failure through additional borrowing and soaring housing benefit bills. Does the Housing Minister agree that the time has come to invest in badly needed social and affordable homes to rent or buy, creating jobs and apprenticeships, bringing down the costs of failure and getting our economy moving?
I think that the whole House will have been somewhat amused by the cheek of the hon. Gentleman, given that under his party’s Administration we saw a reduction of 421,000 in the number of affordable homes. This Government have introduced measures to reverse that trend, and we hope to announce further measures in the near future.