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Building of Homes for Social Rent

Volume 594: debated on Monday 16 March 2015

7. What assessment he has made of trends in the rate of building of homes for social rent since May 2010. (908053)

Under our affordable rent model almost 143,000 affordable homes for rent have been delivered since April 2010. In contrast, between 1997 and 2010 the number of social rented homes fell by 420,000.

I notice that the Minister did not answer my question. At my advice surgery on Friday afternoon, I met Mr and Mrs Conning, who have waited years to move to a decent council or housing association property. Given that roughly 29,000 fewer social rented homes were built last year than in 2010, are the prospects of the Conning family securing a suitable home getting better or worse?

The rate of building council houses is at a 23-year high under this Government. One of the flexibilities that we have given for local councils at the top of their borrowing limits on their housing revenue accounts allows them to apply to the Treasury for up to £150 million extra assistance, and Lewisham council has £43.7 million headroom in its HRA that it could be using to build houses. I suggest that the hon. Lady has a word with her colleagues back home.

I draw attention to my interests in the register. As the Minister clearly has difficulty with the figures, may I remind him that the highly authoritative UK housing review, published last week, shows very clearly the figures for the number of new social rented homes started in this country in each of the years from 2009-10 to 2013-14? In 2009-10, the last year of the previous Government, 39,000 social rented homes were started. In 2013-14, 3,961 were started. Those are the figures, so will the Minister now own up and apologise for that appalling record?

No, I will not apologise at all. I am proud of the record of this coalition Government, who have a reinvigorated affordable homes programme which between 2011 and the end of this month will have delivered 170,000 extra affordable homes. This will be the first Administration since right to buy started in 1980 to leave office with more affordable rented homes in stock than when they started, which the right hon. Gentleman’s Government failed to do in three Administrations.

Ministers promised a 1:1 replacement for homes sold under right to buy, but in fact the replacement rate is in many cases 1:4 or worse. Why have the Government broken that promise?

Local authorities have about three years in which to spend the money and as I understand it some £730 million of proceeds have been raised under the reinvigorated right-to-buy scheme. That must all be invested in building new homes for affordable rent in the borough. The previous Government did not do that. In fact, their record was pretty appalling: for every 170 houses sold under right to buy between 1997 and 2013, only one new social home was built.