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Starter Homes

Volume 611: debated on Monday 6 June 2016

The Government are implementing our manifesto commitment to extend to young people the opportunity to own a home of their own. Working with councils, housing associations and builders, the starter homes programme will bring that opportunity to 200,000 young people across the country.

The Secretary of State will know that there are some situations in which it is not viable to have shared equity on properties—perhaps on infill or brownfield sites. In such situations, the local housing association may still be keen to build, but to rent. Will my right hon. Friend commit to meet to discuss a specific situation and consider support funding?

I am always delighted to meet my hon. Friend. It sounds as though there is the prospect of another trip to Gloucester, which is always very enjoyable. We want to see more housing of all tenures, and our funding provides housing for rent as well as to purchase, but starter homes provide a big opportunity to people who have been losing out on meeting their aspiration to own a home of their own. That is true on brownfield sites as well as on any other site. I hope that in his city of Gloucester, there will be starter homes on those brownfield sites.

How can these homes be called starter homes when someone would have to be on £90,000-plus to have a shot at even a one-bedroom version in my constituency? They are not starter anything; they are ending the hopes of a generation for whom affordable housing to buy and social housing to rent have all but vanished.

I do not agree with the hon. Lady. She will know that the average price that a first-time buyer pays outside London is £181,000, which, with the discount of 20%, is £149,000, and under the very successful Help to Buy scheme, that would require a deposit of £7,500. That is making home ownership possible for the rising generation of young people.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that, in villages in places such as North East Hertfordshire, it is very expensive for young people to own a home. Will this scheme or any other scheme the Government are promoting at the moment help young people in villages in areas such as North East Hertfordshire to make a start with getting a home of their own?

It will, indeed. We have embarked on the biggest programme of house building since the 1970s. Unfortunately, when they were in office, the previous Government accumulated a housing deficit and debt of similar proportions to the financial deficit and debt. This Government are correcting that: we are building homes for young people across the country so that they can do what previous generations did, which is to count on having a home of their own.

That is slightly misleading, because only 7% of local authorities think the new starter homes initiative is any good and 60% think it will be useless in their area. Is that not a fact? Look at this all-male, middle-aged group on the Government Front Bench who are saying to young people in our country, “There’s no hope of a home—not in their lifetime.”

I am sure the hon. Gentleman intended to insert the word “inadvertently” before the word “misleading”.

There is nothing misleading, inadvertently or otherwise, about our commitment to giving many hundreds of thousands of young people the chance to have a home of their own. I would have thought that, for the next generation in his constituency, the hon. Gentleman would be promoting the availability of starter homes, giving people who have not been able to buy a home the possibility of doing so. He should get behind that scheme.

Many brownfield sites in my constituency had planning applications granted before the introduction of the Housing and Planning Act 2016. What advice does the Secretary of State give developers who are now looking to change those planning applications to ensure that they can integrate starter homes into the plans?

It is always possible for developers to have discussions with local authorities if they want to—they are not bound by such applications—but I hope they will press ahead with making available the homes that are needed in my hon. Friend’s constituency as well as in other parts of the country.

The Secretary of State must be getting used to headlines in the housing and planning press that say, “Starter homes will crowd out genuinely affordable homes”, or “Traditional affordable rented homes are being swapped for discounted Starter Homes”. Will he therefore tell us how many genuinely affordable homes for rent or equity share will not be built as a result of the starter homes initiative, and what specific measures is he taking to prevent that from happening?

We are building more homes than have been supported by Governments since the 1970s— 400,000 starter homes. The hon. Lady should be delighted to know that £8 billion of funding has gone in to providing them. With every decision we make, whether on starter homes or in giving the right the buy, we are putting ourselves on the side of the ordinary working people of this country who want a home of their own. In their opposition to such measures, Labour Members are showing how much further they are drifting from understanding—still less, representing—the ordinary working people of this country.