Annual statistics on trends in home ownership are published in the Department’s English housing survey headline report, and I was pleased that recently it highlighted the fact that the number of first-time buyers is at a seven-year high.
Is the Minister aware that the cost of the average house in Enfield has rocketed to over 11 times the average wage in the borough? Home ownership is now at its lowest level in 30 years, and the dream of buying a home is increasingly out of reach. Why are the Government so complacent about declining home ownership and their failure to build?
The hon. Lady should be pleased that we have seen 600 housing starts in her own area over the last year and that, although we inherited from the last Labour Government the lowest level of house building since about 1923, we have seen that level starting to come back thanks to the work this Government have done to deliver the fastest rate of building not just of council homes, but also affordable homes, in about 20 years.
Can the Minister confirm that the proportion of people who own their own home actually fell over the lifetime of the coalition Government, and will he reaffirm, as a central promise of this Administration, to increase the proportion of people who own their own homes?
My hon. Friend makes an interesting observation. Of course, home ownership started to fall in 2005, under the last Labour Government. Over the last Parliament, we worked to get the house building sector working again. We have made it clear that we are a party who believe in helping people who work hard and aspire to own their own home, and that is why we will deliver some 200,000 starter homes for first-time buyers over the course of this Parliament.
24. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show yet another significant rise in house prices in Bristol, with the biggest rise—some 12%—being in my constituency. Affordability is becoming an increasing problem for local people. People from outside Bristol might be able to afford to live there, but local people cannot afford to buy homes. What is the Minister doing about that? (900619)
The hon. Lady may realise that there have been just over 1,000 housing starts in the last year in her area, which is well up on where it was before and, again, builds on the terrible situation we inherited some five years ago. I hope she will join me in thanking this Conservative Government for pledging to deliver affordable homes at the fastest rate in over 20 years and, of course, those 200,000 starter homes for first-time buyers at a 20% discount. Perhaps her party would like to get on board and support that work.
My hon. Friend makes a good point, and we seek to build on that by delivering affordable homes, including starter homes for first-time buyers, and making sure we increase supply. We have seen the increases over the last few years, and the recent figure of some 261,000 homes getting planning approval last year is pretty much a record level, and is a good sign that we have got the market moving in the right direction. We intend to build on that, and will do so.