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Homes for Social Rent

Volume 658: debated on Monday 8 April 2019

4. What recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of new homes for social rent since 2010. (910263)

Since 2010 we have delivered more than 407,000 new affordable homes. That includes more than 293,000 affordable homes for rent, of which 135,000 are for social rent. There is always more to do and I look forward to hearing from the hon. Gentleman what that might be.

Between 2016 and 2017 a total of 138 two- bedroom properties were let in my Warrington South constituency through the social rent scheme, and about 1,100 families bid for them. What is the Minister doing to meet those unsustainable levels of demand in my constituency?

The hon. Gentleman is quite right to raise the fact that demand in all parts of the housing market outstrips supply—social, affordable and, indeed, all ownership models that we put out there. We are putting significant resources behind all parts of the country to build the homes that the next generation needs. We have managed to get net output up from 124,000 after the crash, to 222,000. Indicators for next year are looking pretty good, too, but as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, significant resources are being applied to this problem and we will do our best to try to address it.

The Minister will agree that every opportunity should be taken to increase the stock of social houses for rent, so will he acknowledge the great work of Rugby Borough Council, which is currently arranging for the replacement of old high-rise blocks with a greater number of houses on a conventional streetscape?

I applaud any local authority that is putting its shoulder to the wheel of solving the housing crisis. A great sadness of my time as a borough councillor—I was a councillor for eight years—was the fact that the then Labour Government put an end to council house building. We were all induced, effectively, out of that business with decent homes money. We had to get rid of our housing and transfer it to housing associations or other formats. Fortunately, some councils did manage to hang on and I am very pleased that they are now doing their bit.

Some 66,000 council homes have been sold through right to buy since 2012, and just shy of 18,000 have been started—that is one replacement home started for every four sold, and they are not like for like, either. Are the Government ditching their promise for one-to-one replacement, and when are they going to come clean about that?

The hon. Lady is quite right to point out that we have not hit our one-to-one target. That is correct—it would be foolish to deny it—but at the same time those 66,000 homes that have been sold have satisfied a legitimate aspiration among all those people to own their own home, and we are committed to that. The lifting of the housing revenue account cap was specifically designed to set councils free to build a new generation of council houses, so that in time a further generation of council house occupants can also experience home ownership.