The Government are committed to supporting people into home ownership. The most recent English housing survey saw the first rise in home ownership for 35 to 44-year-olds in over a decade. Government schemes have supported over 553,000 households to purchase a home since 2011.
With house prices in the region almost seven times the average annual salary, people in Coventry and the wider west midlands are struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that more genuinely affordable homes are being built in the region so that home ownership is not out of reach for all but the best-paid and those with significant capital?
May I start by saying what a pleasure it is to hear an Opposition Member who believes in the concept of private property—not something that is shared by everybody on the hon. Lady’s Front Bench or, indeed, her leadership? I am pleased that she shares Conservative Members’ obsession that people should have the ability to own their own homes where they want to. In the end, the solution to the problem that she poses is a massive increase in housing supply. We are committed to building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, not just for one year but for a series of years—perhaps for decades, if we can get there—to address this issue. In the meantime, the Government have put significant funding—billions of pounds—behind schemes such as Help to Buy to make homes more affordable. I hope that as many of her constituents as possible will avail themselves of the assistance that is there.
That is all well and good, but 30 years ago, when I bought my first house in Dudley, people were able to do so because the average cost was about three times the average income. As we have just heard, the average cost is now seven times the average income. At the same time, the number of homes for shared ownership and low-cost home ownership has fallen. So what is the Minister going to do to enable people like the ones I meet in Dudley every single week who are working hard in low-paid employment, desperate to own a home of their own, to fulfil their ambitions?
The hon. Gentleman puts his finger on an enormous problem for the country that we have not shied away from. He is quite right in pointing out that over the past three, possibly four, decades this country has failed to build the homes required by its population, and as a result we have seen unaffordability rise, particularly in London and south-east, but beyond that in the rest of the country as well. In the end, the fundamental solution is a massive increase in supply, which we are committed to. The Government have put significant resources behind lifting the number of homes being built in this country in a way that has not been seen for a generation. Last year’s net new additions to the housing stock were 222,000, and the leading indicators for next year are pointing towards something over 240,000. That will represent the largest expansion in house building in this country since the war.