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Social Housing

Volume 632: debated on Monday 4 December 2017

The Government are providing substantial support for the building of social homes. We recently announced an additional £2 billion of funding, which takes the figure for the affordable homes programme to more than £9 billion. We have provided rent certainty for social landlords, and we have announced that there will be a £1 billion lift in housing revenue account borrowing caps.

The number of homes delivered for social rent has fallen by more than 85% since 2010. Just 5,380 are expected to have been completed in 2016-17, compared with nearly 40,000 in 2010-11. The Budget contains virtually no support for the building of new social housing, and only £6 billion of new money for housing altogether. Is that not a far cry from the £50 billion that was called for by the Secretary of State himself, and does it not mean that the number of houses will fall far short of the number that we need?

Order. That was far too long; absolutely hopeless. The hon. Lady’s questions will have to be much shorter in future. I am always keen to encourage her—she is a new Member, and a prodigious attender—but she needs to apply the blue pencil.

Since 2010, nearly 128,000 homes for social rent have been built in England, and 118,000 have been built for affordable rent. The hon. Lady talks about the money available for housing. I can confirm that, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor said in his Budget statement, we are making at least £44 billion available over the next five years.

The hon. and learned Lady is an illustrious QC, so I am sure that she is capable of asking an extremely pithy question.

I will try, Mr Speaker.

East Cambridgeshire has established five community land trusts. Does the Minister agree that such trusts are a valuable way of ensuring that local people can have affordable homes locally?

My hon. and learned Friend makes a very important point. I commend her for the work that she is doing in encouraging the development of community land trusts, for which I announced additional funds only last week.

Since 2010, we have delivered 357,000 affordable homes including, as I said earlier, about 128,000 homes for social rent. As I also said previously, we are providing £9 billion for the affordable homes programme, a £1 billion lift in HRA borrowing caps, and rent certainty for social landlords. That will help the sector to build more affordable homes, including social rented homes.

Shelter has found that in the past year developers have used viability assessments to wriggle out of building more than 2,500 affordable homes to rent or buy, including 200 in Bristol. Will the Minister take steps to remove that loophole when he rewrites the national planning policy framework next year by, removing the reference to the need for a competitive return?

One of the key issues in our consultation on local housing needs, which closed on 9 November, was viability assessments. We will of course review what comes forward, but we have made it very clear that we want developers to build affordable homes.

19. After 13 years of Labour MPs in Gloucester in which not a single new social housing unit was built, we now have built some new social housing, but we want to do much more through a master plan involving the Government’s estate regeneration programme. Will my hon. Friend confirm that money may be available through the new national productivity investment fund to help to bridge any potential funding gap caused by low values? (902710)

I commend my hon. Friend for the work that he is doing in his constituency to encourage more building of homes, including social homes, and I am delighted by the progress that is being made in estate regeneration. My hon. Friend’s constituency has received £1.25 million of capacity funding. More detailed eligibility criteria for the national productivity investment fund will be announced in due course, and I shall be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the matter further.

17. There was much fanfare in the Budget about housing, but when will the Minister start to understand that if the Government are to tackle the social housing crisis, they must abolish the right to buy? (902708)

Of course we support the right to buy. It has meant that people have been able to own homes, which I think is incredibly important. We are making more money available for affordable homes but, as I have said, there will be at least £44 billion over the next five years so that more homes can be built. We have a housing crisis now because not enough homes were built under the last Government.

If we are to meet the demand for more affordable homes, there needs to be a partnership between the private and public sectors. What actions can the Minister take to ensure that local authorities work with both sectors in order to deliver the homes that we need?

In the Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor set out the planning reforms that we are looking at, which will have an impact on local authorities bringing forward more sites more quickly for building. We have also announced an uplift of up to £1 billion for the housing revenue account, which will make a substantial difference.