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Affordable Homes

Volume 607: debated on Monday 21 March 2016

3. What assessment he has made of trends in the number of affordable homes available to buy since 2010. (904219)

I am pleased that we were able to finish the last Parliament with more affordable housing than we started with. We were one of the first Governments in a generation to do that. We actually delivered beyond our target to deliver 276,000 affordable homes, of which 80,000 were for shared ownership.

Is the Minister aware that home ownership among people under the age of 35 is down by more than a fifth—by 21%? What will a redefinition of affordable housing to homes under £450,000 do to address that problem?

If the hon. Gentleman looks at some of the papers published over the past couple of weeks, he will see that although there was a fall in home ownership since 2003, it has stalled. It is our clear determination and policy to make sure that we increase home ownership, and that is what starter homes are about. I hope that he will support us in delivering those homes for first-time buyers under 40, at a discount of at least 20%, so that we can help them to be able to afford to get into that ownership model again.

One of the key planks of the Government’s policy on delivering affordable housing is neighbourhood planning, so the Minister will be pleased to hear that in Oakley, in my constituency, the neighbourhood plan went to a referendum last Thursday and received 95% approval. Given that, does he agree that it is an outrage that just seven days before the referendum, the planning inspector allowed an appeal in that village that largely renders the plan pointless after two years of work? What is he going to do about the Planning Inspectorate effectively bulldozing Government policy in my constituency?

Specifically in relation to affordable homes, a matter upon which I feel sure the Minister is tempted to dilate.

I think it is important that neighbourhood plans play their part in delivering affordable homes. When an area such as the one that my hon. Friend has mentioned has worked out a neighbourhood plan to deliver affordable homes, I would expect the Planning Inspectorate to respect that neighbourhood plan.

Some 22,000 households in Northern Ireland are in acute housing need. Between 2011 and 2015, we had 4,000 first-time buyers using co-ownership and 6,000 association homes. We need to build 11,000 homes a year. What assistance can the Minister provide when it comes to co-ownership to help people who wish to purchase even more?

The hon. Gentleman raises a good point. We are clear that as part of delivering 400,000 affordable homes by 2021, we want at least 135,000 to involve co-ownership and shared ownership. This is another fantastic model that improves the affordability of the home ownership model and enables more people to access it.

Will my hon. Friend outline what a couple under the age of 40 living in Cornwall can expect to borrow under the new starter homes initiative that the Government have implemented for a family home worth, say, £200,000?

My hon. Friend makes a good point about how starter homes can help people to get on to the housing ownership ladder. I would not presume to tell lenders what their position should be, but when we apply the starter home discount of at least 20% to that £200,000 home, which brings it down to £160,000, with a 5% deposit, we give access to home ownership to a whole range of people who have been trapped out of it since Labour’s great recession.