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House Building

Volume 616: debated on Monday 24 October 2016

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State recently announced the £3 billion home building fund to ensure that we are not so reliant on a few large builders, and the £2 billion accelerated construction programme to speed up building on public land. We will be setting out further plans in a White Paper later this year.

Havant Borough Council is working with communities to update our local plans to ensure that local housing needs are met strategically. Will the Minister join me in congratulating them on their work and welcome their commitment to ensuring that home ownership is within reach of everyone?

I am happy to do that. It was a pleasure to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency recently and to meet Councillor David Guest, who is leading this work on behalf of Havant Council, and the great housing associations First Wessex and Radian, which are doing great work in this field.

A fair proportion of these homes have to be affordable. Earlier this year, Westminster Council approved a scheme for 103 luxury flats in Westminster. Thirty per cent. of those would have given us an estimated value of £100 million; in fact, the council agreed to just 2% and took a contribution of £6 million. Will the Minister make it his urgent business to ensure that councils do not evade their commitments to providing a reasonable proportion of affordable housing?

Both the Secretary of State and I have made it very clear that we need more homes of every single kind in this country—more homes for people to buy on the market, more affordable homes for rent, and more shared ownership. I hope that the hon. Lady will therefore welcome the Government’s starter homes policy to ensure that developers provide starter homes for first-time buyers when they build out schemes.

In Swindon, we have cross-party support for our local plan, and by working with developers in advance of the submission stage of planning, we are delivering the popular Tadpole Farm development. Will the Minister agree to visit Tadpole Farm to see what best practice we can share to deliver much needed new homes?

That would be a delight. It is good to hear in this Question Time about councils that are getting on with the business of developing local plans that meet the housing needs of their areas. I hope that all councils in England will follow that example.

18. Will the Minister give some reasons why home ownership among people under 35 has fallen by more than a third of a million since 2010? What will he do to start reversing that trend so that people of my age are able to afford their first home? (906745)

The hon. Gentleman uses an interesting timescale, because the fall in home ownership among the under-35s started in 2004-05 and the previous Labour Government did nothing about it. Indeed, the new shadow Minister said that he is not sure that he thinks that is such a bad thing. That decline was halted in the past year. The job that now falls to the Secretary of State and me is to reverse that decline so that young people have the chance to fulfil their dreams.

In her conference speech, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the Conservatives’ house building record was not good enough. Given the historic failure of the past six years under the Prime Minister’s predecessor, whose house building record was worse than that of any Prime Minister since 1923, how can we be convinced that the present Government will do anything differently to prevent six years of failure from becoming 10?

Let us take care of the party politics first. The previous Prime Minister inherited from the previous Labour Government the lowest level of house building since the 1920s, but the number of homes being approved has now increased significantly. In the year to June, our planning system granted a record number of applications. However, if the hon. Lady wants to put aside the party politics and is saying that we need to do better and to build more homes, she will find complete agreement among this ministerial team.