The new year has meant a new name for my Department, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government—or MoHoCoLoGo for short—and a fantastic new ministerial team, who will build on the great strides achieved by my hon. Friends the Members for Nuneaton (Mr Jones) and for Reading West (Alok Sharma). The name underlines the importance of our commitment to fix the broken housing market, and we will continue to help to build strong communities and to support local government. Something that resonates especially strongly this week is Holocaust Memorial Day, which is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to rooting out hatred and anti-Semitism wherever it exists.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that upbeat statement. Both Scotland and Wales are totally served by unitary local authorities. How many people in England are served by unitary authorities, and what does he expect the figure to be in five years’ time?
First, may I say that it is a privilege to receive a question from my right hon. Friend? This is the first time I have received one from him in Parliament, and it is an opportunity for me to thank him for all the work he has done in government, of which he can be incredibly proud. I can tell him that 60% of English people are served by unitary authorities, and I expect the number to be higher in five years’ time, given the views of many local people about unitary authorities and our commitment to consider unitarisation whenever requested.
I thank the hon. Lady for that question. First, it is a very serious matter, which is why we have put more money into local authorities so that they can look at the quality of the private rented accommodation in which temporary accommodation now takes place. Secondly, on the point about children, we have made it clear that bed and breakfast accommodation should be acceptable for only an incredibly short period where children are concerned, and local authorities know that.
First, may I congratulate my hon. Friend on becoming the champion for the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor? I know he is very determined to do an excellent job, and he will make a great difference. The cross-departmental co-operation he talked about is absolutely essential. It is exactly what we are arranging, and I know he will help with it.
As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, these growth deals are extremely complicated. That is why I have agreed to meet the backers of the Ayrshire growth deal to talk about how, for our part, the UK Government can take an exciting deal forward.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We delivered 217,000 new homes last year, which is 50% more than the last year of the last Labour Government. We want to get that level up to 300,000. We have planning reform, release of public sector land and targeted funding to achieve that, which is crucial for key workers, the next generation and those on low and middle incomes.
We have, of course, raised the cap by £1 billion. It needs to be done in a responsible way, because we have to consider the amount of debt that has been taken on, but we will keep it under review. That is one aspect of the huge drive towards building the extra homes we need. I have talked about some of those issues, including targeted funding and release of public sector land. We want to make sure that we get up to the annual target of 300,000 as soon as possible.
Regeneration in Cleethorpes will be greatly assisted if the Government can conclude discussions with the local authority about a town growth deal under proposals by the Greater Grimsby project board. When do Ministers expect to reach a conclusion?
I met members of the board of the Grimsby town growth deal on a recent visit to Cleethorpes and the town of Grimsby. I am sure that my hon. Friend will be as pleased as I am that the growth deal was specifically referenced in the industrial strategy, and I encourage him to contact the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to talk about how it can be taken forward.
This is a very complex matter. The interesting thing that I find now that I am getting to grips with it as a Minister is the different layers of problems that people have in their chaotic lives. It is very important that different councils have moved on with building new council housing, including my own Conservative South Derbyshire District Council—I declare an interest as my husband was the leader. Different levels are really attacking the issue and it is going to be a pleasure to get my teeth into it.
The Secretary of State attended the launch of the new all-party parliamentary group on new towns, chaired by my hon. Friend the Member for Telford (Lucy Allan). My right hon. Friend will know that the new towns and Milton Keynes were created because they were able to acquire land at a reasonable valuation close to its current use. That is no longer possible, because of the Land Compensation Act 1973. Among his many admirable ambitions for housebuilding in this country, will he agree to look at the Act and the possibility of reforming the valuation of land that is acquired?
My hon. Friend speaks with great experience. He made a number of important planning reforms when he was a Minister. I will commit to looking at the issue he raises and point him to some of the work we have already done, including an amendment in the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017 which allows the Secretary of State to designate planning zones.
We have made it an absolute priority in government to help to fight rough sleeping and homelessness. We have committed to halving it by the end of this Parliament and to eliminating it completely by 2027. I share the hon. Gentleman’s concerns, but I hope that he agrees that this issue is not a party political football, and we should all work together across the House to deal with the issue.
I am delighted that the new Housing Minister has agreed to work with me to improve tenant safety in respect of carbon monoxide poisoning. Does he agree with the National Landlords Association and Headway, a brain injury charity, that more needs to be done to protect the public at large from death or injury through carbon monoxide poisoning?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on the tenacious way he has built the campaign. We will certainly listen to all voices on this issue. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to sit down with him to talk about his private Member’s Bill. We share the aim to make progress on carbon monoxide in both the key areas of his Bill. I look forward to working with him in future.
Gateshead will receive a 1.5% real-terms increase in core spending power this year and, thanks to the steps taken in the spring Budget by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, an additional £40 million to fund adult social care in the forthcoming financial year.
The Secretary of State will have seen the leader of Wakefield Council’s announcement this morning that he now supports a wider Yorkshire deal. That means that 18 of the 20 local authorities across wider Yorkshire support it. Does the Secretary of State agree that in addition to finalising the detail of any Sheffield city region deal, an important conversation now needs to be had with the 18 leaders about a wider Yorkshire deal?
The crucial decision about any wider Yorkshire deal, if there ever is one, is in the hands of the local authorities concerned. We will be going ahead with the South Yorkshire deal, but earlier this week, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman is aware, we put forward a proposal to allow others, such as Barnsley and Doncaster, to take a different route, if they choose to do so.
For the coming year, the Secretary of State has enabled councils to increase tax by 3%, compared with just 2% last year, but the cash limit has been retained at £5 when parity would be £7.50. That affects 88 small district councils. Will the Secretary of State consider a change?
May I welcome and congratulate the new members of the team? Ending a private rented sector tenancy is now the leading cause of homelessness. Will the Secretary of State extend the mandatory licensing scheme for landlords in the private sector?
The Government recognise the pressure on local councils and are determined to get them the resources they need, which is why there will be a real- terms funding increase for local authorities across the country this year, together with the flexibility to deliver more money for adult social care, in the hon. Gentleman’s council and elsewhere.
Will the Government please commit to reviewing the situation whereby street homeless people are crossing local authority boundaries, going from one where there is little support to others such as Bristol, where there is a great deal?
Holocaust Memorial Day is a reminder to us all of the horrors of what mankind can do—of what we can do to each other—if no one speaks up. It is incumbent on all parties in this House to face up to anti-Semitism. I noted just a few days ago the Jewish Labour Movement was appealing to the Labour party leadership to throw out people who allegedly practise anti-Semitism. The Labour party talks about combating hate crime, but it has to show people that it really means it.