In the autumn Budget, we announced further reforms and financial support to increase housing supply in England. This includes more than £15 billion of new financial support, at least £44 billion of funding to 2022-23, and reforms to ensure that more land is available for housing.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. The work of his Department and the pledge in the Budget to build 300,000 new homes in England are very welcome, and will go some way to address growing intergenerational unfairness when it comes to getting on the housing ladder. Will he join me today in calling for the Scottish Government to match the Scottish Conservatives’ pledge to build 100,000 new homes north of the border so that young people in my constituency can have the same opportunities to buy as those in constituencies in England?
The hon. Gentleman can now breathe.
I absolutely join my hon. Friend in doing that, and he is right to highlight this issue. The Scottish Government, even on their own targets, have been failing consistently on house building, especially affordable house building. I commend the ideas, energy and ambition shown by the Scottish Conservatives in challenging the Scottish National party to build more homes in Scotland.
Not a single new home has been registered in York in the last quarter. In the light of the Secretary of State’s rejection of the draft local plan, due to the council’s complete failure to address York’s housing crisis, will he ensure that he works with councillors across the piece, including Labour councillors, to get it right for the city with regard to the houses that need to be built for our future?
The hon. Lady will know that the Government have invested huge amounts in the past few years to make sure that house building picks up. The rate was down to 100,000 homes a year when the Government took office in 2010, but the figure for the latest year is 217,000. There is a lot more to do, including in York. I have written to the council in York and we are considering with it what we can do to speed up its planned development.
In Berlin and elsewhere in Germany, architects, landowners, homeless people and local councils co-operate to bring forward thousands of new dwellings through mutual housing co-operatives. Will the Secretary of State encourage local councils here to consider that option as a way of bringing forward more dwellings more quickly?
I agree with the direction my hon. Friend sets out. One issue highlighted in the housing White Paper, which we are tackling as we implement it, is how we make sure that we have more diversity of supply. That includes different types of supply, including custom-build and co-operatives. My hon. Friend is right to highlight that and I commend him for his work in this area.
In New Ferry, we are desperate to build new homes as part of the regeneration following last March’s explosion. I am still disappointed that the Government refused to help with emergency costs for New Ferry, but will the Secretary of State confirm that he received Wirral Council’s email of last week containing the regeneration plan, and will he now step forward and fund the regeneration that New Ferry desperately needs?
I can confirm to the hon. Lady that we have just received the local council’s plan—I believe we received it five days ago, having waited five months. I am not sure why it took it so long, but now that we have received it, we will take a close look at it.
Will the Secretary of State reassure my constituents that although there is an obvious need to build more houses, green-belt restrictions have not been loosened and the green belt will still be protected in my very rural constituency?
I can reassure my hon. Friend that no changes have been made to green-belt rules and that building on the green belt requires exceptional reasons. There were no changes in either the housing White Paper or the recent announcement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. The change we did announce was for more funding to make sure, for example, that we get the right infrastructure in the right places to help us to build more homes.
The Scottish Parliament has delivered more than 69,500 affordable homes since 2007, during the period of SNP government, and the new-build social sector completion rate is at 72 per 100,000 population, compared with just 49 in England. Why exactly was there no commitment to increase social rented housing in the Budget?
We will take no lectures from the SNP when it comes to housing. In Scotland, under the SNP’s leadership, the number of housing starts has declined by 40%, the number of housing completions has fallen, the rate of housing ownership has fallen, and all affordable housing targets are being missed. It is about time that the hon. Lady stopped lecturing and started listening to the Scottish Conservatives.
The Secretary of State just referred—rightly and approvingly—to the aspiration of home ownership. In the last year of the Labour Government, 54% of under-45s’ homes were owned by their occupants, but under this Government, that figure has plummeted to 44%. Given that the Chancellor has cut the money for starter homes in the Budget, will the Secretary of State tell the House what he has learned from seven years of Conservative failure? What will he do to give hope to our under-45s?
The hon. Gentleman talks about failure in the delivery of housing, but I think that he has got the wrong party. The track record of the Labour Government of whom he was a part included a massive fall in house building in this country—to its lowest level since the 1920s—a decline in social units for rent of 421,000, and almost a doubling of the waiting list for social housing. Their record on housing was one of the worst that this country has seen. If he wants to do something about it, he should support the policies of this Government.