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Affordable Homes

Volume 599: debated on Monday 14 September 2015

8. What steps his Department is taking to promote the building of affordable homes through the planning system. (901303)

The national planning policy framework requires local planning authorities to meet their affordable housing needs for their area, and we are committed to delivering some 275,000 new affordable homes through to the end of this Parliament.

In my constituency, over the past 18 months developer after developer has used the planning rules to get out of their obligations to build affordable homes, and more than 200 much needed affordable homes have been lost to my constituency during that period. When will the Minister get a grip and get developers to comply with their obligation to build affordable homes?

The hon. Gentleman might wish to take up with his local authority the issue of the power to negotiate locally. We are delivering affordable homes at the fastest rate in just over two decades, and in his constituency the number of homes going forward has increased by 124% since 2010. He should be thanking the Government for the work we have done to support that industry.

Will the Minister assure me that councils are being encouraged to build more affordable homes for sale, because much more homeownership is the priority of the British people?

My right hon. Friend makes a good point, and one key focus of our manifesto this year was the starter homes project. I am proud that the Government will take forward the delivery of some 200,000 starter homes for first-time buyers at a 20% discount.

But the increase in the definition of affordable homes is one reason why the Government can claim a massive increase in the building of such homes. In my constituency an affordable home requires people to be able to afford 80% of market rent, and people on average incomes cannot possibly afford that, even if they have a deposit.

For good quality homes in the rental and ownership sectors the key is an increase in supply. I am pleased that in the hon. Lady’s constituency the number of starter homes has increased by 45% since 2010, and completions are up by 100% since 2010. We must build more homes—it is a shame that the previous Labour Government did not build them and that we started in 2010 with the lowest rate of house building since about 1923, which is what Labour left.

Does the Minister agree that the rural starter homes programme will provide much appreciated assistance to young people so that they can afford to live in the areas where they grew up?

Yes, my hon. Friend makes a very good point. The need for starter homes and affordable homes for people to purchase is as important in rural areas as it is in urban areas, and I am delighted that we will be able to take that project forward and see 200,000 starter homes delivered for first-time buyers across the country.