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Social Housing

Volume 699: debated on Monday 19 July 2021

What progress he has made on the Government’s new deal for social housing since the publication of the social housing Green Paper in 2018. (902855)

What progress he has made on the Government’s new deal for social housing since the publication of the social housing Green Paper in 2018. (902863)

We listened to thousands of residents in 2018 and acted decisively, publishing the social housing White Paper last November. We have strengthened the housing ombudsman service, run a complaints awareness campaign and taken important steps to improve safety and decency, including launching the review of the decent homes standard, reviewing electrical safety and consulting on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide measures. We are putting residents first and ensuring that they live in safe, decent homes and are treated with respect and courtesy.

Every day, millions of people across the country grapple with the realities of the housing crisis, from overcrowded and unsanitary housing, to rip-off rents and negligent landlords. Our country is calling out for a new generation of high-quality, sustainable social housing, but the much-delayed social housing White Paper has failed to deliver on promises made by the then Housing Secretary in 2017, while the Government’s planning reforms could remove the main remaining route to social house building by abolishing section 106. So will the Minister tell the House what steps the Government are taking to build the social housing that people up and down the country so desperately need?

First, and perhaps most importantly, it might be helpful if Labour-run councils such as Croydon were providing high-quality social housing—that would be incredibly helpful. We do not need Government legislation for them to be able to do that. We do not need to wait for Government legislation; I have already convened a meeting of the social housing White Paper challenge panel, with representatives from across the sector and, more importantly, tenants’ representatives, to hear what they need. As we have heard earlier, this Government are also investing £11.5 billion in building new affordable homes, so we are increasing the number of properties that are available and we are also working with the sector to ensure that the housing we have at the moment is all of an acceptable standard.

Too many families spent lockdown in overcrowded homes. Housing and health go hand in hand, as we know; overcrowding not only increases the risk of catching covid-19, but puts a strain on mental health. Building back better must mean building good-quality, affordable housing. What plans does the Minister have to reverse the trend whereby we are losing more social homes than we are building?

I think the simple answer to that is that since 2010 we have delivered 365,800 affordable homes for rent, of which 148,000 are for social rent.