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Housebuilding: Social Homes

Volume 717: debated on Monday 27 June 2022

The provision of affordable housing is a central pillar of this Government’s plan to level up the country. We are investing £11.5 billion in affordable homes over the next five years. We recognise that there is a significant need for social housing; that is why our affordable homes programme will aim to deliver 32,000 social rent homes, double the figure of the previous programme.

I am inundated with casework on a daily basis from constituents living in shocking conditions, facing problems with mould, disrepair and overcrowding that are seriously impacting their quality of life and mental health. There are more than 4,000 families on Enfield’s waiting list for social housing alone. How can the Minister justify fewer than 7,000 social homes having been built in England last year?

The hon. Lady highlights an equally important point about the quality of the social homes we have. I hope she will welcome the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill already making its way through the other place, which is intended to reduce the number of non-decent homes by 50% by 2030. We are doing that not just in the social rented sector, but in the private rented sector.

I welcome more social housing, but in the rural parishes of east Sussex the housing provider Optivo is selling off stock to the private market, citing the cost of meeting rental requirements. I have tried to reason with Optivo and suggest that it only do so where it or other social housing providers are building more housing in the same parish. Can I meet the Minister to discuss that and to discuss accountability of social housing organisations?

My hon. Friend makes an important point about the accountability of housing associations. It is our drive, through the Government’s work and the new Bill, to ensure that that accountability is increased. I am assured that the Housing Minister will meet my hon. Friend to discuss the issue with Optivo.

Having overseen the net loss of a staggering 135,000 genuinely affordable social homes over the past 12 years, the Conservative party now seems to have conceded that the country does not have enough and the Government need to do something about it. When it comes to reversing 12 years of failure on social housing, it is deeds, not words, that matter to the 1.2 million people now languishing on waiting lists across England. Can the Minister tell the House precisely how many extra homes for social rent the Government now plan to deliver by the end of this Parliament?

It is slightly disappointing when the hon. Gentleman turns up with a written question that I have already answered in the response to the previous question. However, it is equally important to note that during the 11 years where we had a Labour Government, they built fewer affordable homes than the Conservative Government have built subsequently, so I do not think we are in a position to take lessons from the Opposition.