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Affordable Homes Programme

Volume 597: debated on Monday 29 June 2015

More than 260,000 affordable homes have been delivered in England since April 2010. The Government’s 2011 to 2015 affordable homes programme exceeded our expectations, delivering nearly 186,000 affordable homes, some 16,000 more than originally pledged.

Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating Northampton Borough Council on using the affordable housing programme to create new affordable housing and bring empty commercial and office buildings in Northampton back into use? What further plans does he have to help local authorities provide more affordable housing?

I thank my hon. Friend for making that point, and he is right. I congratulate Northampton Borough Council on its excellent work in making sure it delivers the homes that residents need. It is important that we do that. That is why we are committed to delivering affordable housing over the next few years at the fastest rate we will have seen in this country for more than two decades.

I welcome the Minister’s answer and applaud the Government’s policy of extending the right to buy to housing association tenants, but may I urge him to make sure that there is a robust mechanism to ensure like-for-like replacement of homes sold to housing association tenants? In particular, will he examine what happens in rural areas where community land trusts exist to ensure no depletion of affordable housing in rural communities?

My hon. Friend makes a good point, and I thank him for endorsing the fact that we are determined to do what we can to support people who aspire to own their own homes. We will move forward with delivering that right to all social tenants. The Government are committed to ensuring that people can achieve their aspiration of home ownership. We support people’s desire to own their own home, and we will work with them. Under the current programme, there are rural exemption sites.

Given that the Government have completely failed to replace the council homes sold under the right to buy, and given the Minister’s proposals to force the sale of housing association homes, are the Government committed to replacing housing association homes that are sold and council homes that will be sold to fund the compensation to housing associations? If not, does he accept that his policy will lead to a reduction in the number of houses available for social renting?

What assessment has the Minister made of land throughout the country that already has planning permission for housing that could help the affordable housing programme?

Some 261,000 properties have been given planning permission in the past year. That is a good sign, and it is pretty much a record figure. We need to make sure that those homes are developed in good time. Local authorities grant planning permission for a limited time, so they should rightly expect developers to build them out.