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Home ownership

Volume 697: debated on Monday 14 June 2021

This Government are making the dream of home ownership a reality for people across England, taking generation rent and turning it into generation buy. I am delighted that earlier this month we launched our First Homes scheme, with the first properties ready for sale in Bolsover, providing homes discounted by at least 30% for first-time buyers, priority local people and key workers. Our new 95% mortgage guarantee has already given lenders the confidence to help families and young people get on to the property ladder, without the burden of a large deposit.

I am in my first home—I moved in only in May—and I want to see more of my constituents in exactly the same position. Will the Secretary of State outline what support North West Durham constituents in particular can access through the new schemes—particularly the First Homes scheme, in which so many of my constituents are interested in getting involved—and when they will be fully available and rolled out throughout the country?

I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that the Government are committed to making sure that young people have the opportunities that they need to live and work in their local community, both in North West Durham and right throughout the country. I encourage my hon. Friend’s constituents to go to the Government’s website to check out the brilliant schemes that are available. I am also glad to let him know that later this month we will launch the first set of first homes in County Durham.

Today, on the fourth anniversary of the terrible fire at Grenfell, we first and foremost remember the 72 people who lost their lives. Our thoughts are with the bereaved, as well as the survivors of that terrible night.

The Grenfell community has steadfastly campaigned for justice and for change, but it has come too slowly. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in buildings that we now know to be unsafe, with some even still wrapped in the same flammable cladding as Grenfell. Many of those people are first-time buyers who have watched their dream of home ownership become a living nightmare, in unsellable, worthless homes.

I welcome the building safety fund, but funds alone are not enough, not least because of the extremely slow progress in allocating them. We need active intervention and leadership, so will the Secretary of State commit that all buildings will be made safe—and not just in respect of aluminium composite material cladding—or at least be in the process of being made so, by this time next year? Will he free homeowners from the burden of the costs and anxieties of being trapped in unmortgageable, unsafe homes?

I join the hon. Lady in giving my sympathies, thoughts and prayers to the survivors, the bereaved and the community of north Kensington. We all want to support them to ensure that their quest for justice continues and reaches its conclusion, as a result of the public inquiry and the police investigations. Of course, we will do everything in our power to ensure that it never happens again.

Earlier this year, I set out the next steps in our plan to ensure that homes in this country are safe. We are providing £5.1 billion to ensure that unsafe materials, such as cladding, are removed from people’s homes as quickly as possible. Some 95% of those high-rise flats that have the same ACM cladding as was on Grenfell Tower have either now been remediated or have workers on site as we speak, and the work on 65% of them has been completed. I want to see that work finished by the end of this year and we will do everything we can to ensure that that happens.

We are also working with lenders, insurers and surveyors to ensure that they also play their part and we have a proportionate, sensible approach to risk, so that those who do not need to be trapped because of this issue are not unduly trapped and those who created this situation in the first place—the builders and the developers—pay their fair share. We are currently consulting on an industry levy and we will encourage, as we have done throughout this process, those developers that have not already stepped up to do so, because it is unconscionable that leaseholders are having to pay for the faults of an industry that has profited at their expense.