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Home Ownership

Volume 594: debated on Monday 16 March 2015

4. How many people owned their own home in England in (a) May 2010 and (b) the latest date for which figures are available. (908050)

9. How many people owned their own home in England in (a) May 2010 and (b) the latest date for which figures are available. (908055)

The number of households in home ownership has remained relatively steady since May 2010. There were 14.45 million in the year 2010-11 and 14.32 million in 2013-14, according to the latest available data from the English housing survey.

Despite that response, the number has not remained steady. It has actually fallen by almost 4% in four years, and we now have 11 million people, including 1.5 million children, living in private rented accommodation. What are this Government going to do to support those families, and to support generation rent more generally?

The figures I gave did show a fall, so we are not disagreeing on that. The fact is that home ownership peaked in 2005 and fell dramatically in the five years of the last Labour Government. The private rental sector is an attractive part of the housing mix for a large number of people, and in the past 12 months this Government have put in place a huge number of reforms to regulate the sector. They include the regulation of letting agencies to ensure that they all belong to an ombudsman scheme, that they are completely transparent about their fees and that they publish a how-to-rent guide and a model tenancy agreement. That is a vast improvement on what we had before.

I hear what the Minister says, but what would he say to those young people in their 20s and 30s, one in four of whom are still living in their parents’ home? How is he going to provide for them, given that the Prime Minister said that he wanted young people to be rewarded with a home of their own?

The Government recognise that most people want to own a home of their own. That is one of the reasons that we have put in place the Help to Buy scheme, which has now helped 88,000 people around the country. In the hon. Lady’s own constituency, 81 families have used the scheme to buy their own home.

Will the Minister confirm that the number of first- time buyers is at a six-year high and that almost 192,000 households have been helped to buy or reserve a property through Government-backed schemes?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right; the full range of schemes have helped a rather large number of people to get their foot on to the housing ladder. Let us not forget the situation we inherited. There was a credit bubble, through a growth in mortgages until 2007, and lots of warnings were given, including by my right hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), who is now the Business Secretary, that the bubble would burst—it did. That was a catastrophe not only for the economy, but for a lot of people trying to get their foot on to the housing ladder. Our schemes have been a real help to people in buying their own home.

In 2010, the Government’s then housing Minister said in his first speech on the subject that the

“age of aspiration is back”.

But under this Government we have seen home ownership falling to a 30-year low; the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s; and a record number of young people living at home with their parents. Given that this Government have broken every promise on housing over the past five years, why should anyone believe their promises for the next five years?

I like the hon. Lady very much, but she has a tendency, as do quite a few people from her intake, to wipe the slate clean from the previous five years, or the previous 13 years when she was not a Member. The fact is that house starts and completions hit rock bottom in 2008-09, when there were just 88,000 starts. Since then, starts and completions have picked up: in the last year there were 134,000 starts; and the latest information we have, for 2014, shows there are now 253,000 new planning completions for housing. So there is a strong pipeline going forward.