Question for Short Debate
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they plan to improve the quality and affordability of housing in the United Kingdom.
My Lords, I begin by drawing your Lordships’ attention to my entry in the register of interests. I thank all those who are speaking in this short debate and am pleased that so many share my concerns. I look forward to hearing their speeches.
The provision of decent, affordable housing is at crisis point in the country. I share the Government’s ambition to build 1 million new homes. However, current building levels are well below that needed for an efficient and fully functioning housing market. Around 139,000 new homes were built in the year to June, but estimates of the housing need of people across the country indicate that up to 250,000 homes a year are required. Strong leadership and action are essential to solve this crisis, and putting local councils at the heart of it is vital.
Government legislation does not always assist. For example, in Colchester nine units of social housing are due in the next six months, after the ALMO’s housebuilding programme had to be cancelled due to the impact of the cuts in rent and the borrowing cap. The previous year, it built 32 homes and sold 34 homes under the right to buy.
A full range of options for the housing market should be on offer, not just home ownership. We have had many debates in this Chamber where one of the key points made, across the political spectrum, is how essential good-quality, affordable housing is to residents’ ability to make the most of their lives. Even if the country is able to achieve full employment by upskilling 3.5 million people to take higher-level, higher-paid jobs, which the economy is projected to create, analysis suggests that a minimum of 3.98 million people of working age will need access to affordable housing options by 2024.
Central to helping solve the problem is the replacement of homes sold under the right to buy and reinvestment in more genuinely affordable homes, which our cities, towns, villages and communities desperately need. This means the right homes in the right areas, creating healthy and inclusive communities. Would the Minister agree that it is not just younger people who require decent homes? The older population want homes that meet their particular needs, also in the areas of their choice.
Local authorities wish to explore all the options, including discounting the value of existing stock and housing revenue account borrowing from national public debt. This gives them flexibility to borrow to invest in the range of new homes as a key component of local infrastructure. This would allow them to meet a wide range of local needs while generating significant medium and long-term returns for public services.
Homelessness figures are rising sharply. The Government’s announcement in December of £5 million to help the 25 councils with the highest rate of homelessness is to be welcomed, but this has not halted the rise. Nineteen councils have reported a rise, including Birmingham, with a 50% rise in households in temporary accommodation, and Bromley, with a 24% rise. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, will know that Southwark has also seen a rise.
Nationally, the biggest single reported reason for homelessness is loss of private rented sector accommodation. This sector has now overtaken the social sector as a tenure. Landlords are able to terminate assured shorthold tenancies for a number of reasons, including being influenced by tenant behaviour, a wish to realise capital value, or a need to accommodate their own family members. Also, the cost of housing benefit has increased as a result of the private rented sector overtaking the social sector as the main source of renting.
Affordability is essential. A recent briefing from the Resolution Foundation entitled Hanging On gives stark statistics of the stresses and strains of families who are only just managing. Annexe A of its report gives figures for the concentration of low to middle-income households for local authority areas with the highest concentration of children living in working families in receipt of tax credits. Given the speeches of my noble friend Lord Greaves over the years, noble Lords will not be surprised to hear that Pendle is at the top of the list with 55%. However, West Somerset, virtually on my doorstep, was second with 53.7%. West Somerset is a deeply rural community, covering part of Exmoor National Park. Here, children from both the market towns and rural areas have little access to leisure activities and services. Jobs are in short supply and often at the lower end of the pay scales. There is much deprivation, which sits uncomfortably with the beautiful surroundings.
Again, the Resolution Foundation gives figures for the average housing cost to income ratio among working age households by tenure type: for private rented it is 29%; for owning with a mortgage, 24%; for social rented, 18%; and for owning outright 4.9%. With a significant move towards the private rented sector, the ratio for low to middle-income families has increased from just over 18% in 1995 to over 24% in 2014-15. This rise in costs since the late 1990s is equivalent to an extra 14p on the basic rate of income tax for a dual-earning low to middle-income couple with children. Higher-income households have also seen a rise in their housing cost to income ratio, but one that is a proportionally smaller share of net income.
The quality of housing for those on low incomes is paramount. Many council and housing association homes have been brought up to the decent homes standards, but not all, and there still remain issues in the private sector. An extract from the housing section of Somerset’s joint strategic needs assessment summary of 2013-14 indicated that,
“District Councils have a responsibility to identify health and safety hazards in both private rented and owned properties, particularly where these impact vulnerable people. The emphasis is on acting to remedy these ‘Category One hazards’ before they result in a life changing event for the occupants … studies have shown that for every £1 spent remedying these hazards, it saves the NHS £3.36”.
As we all know, there is a clear link between poor energy efficiency, fuel poverty and poor health. A relationship exists between low thermal efficiency of housing and excess winter deaths. As winter approaches, I ask the Minister to say what measures the Government propose to implement to remedy this situation.
The Homes and Communities Agency has dropped imposing any standards over and above building regulations, which have now largely caught up with the Code for Sustainable Homes level 3 and now include many of the features of lifetime homes. Using building regulations provides a level playing field across tenures, and incremental adjustments have slowly raised the standard in the private sector, but have effectively lowered standards in the social sector. Government has issued a single set of national space standards but has left it to local planning authorities to adopt them only where they have evidence for doing so. However, British housing is among the smallest in the western world.
All types of local authority are involved with housing provision, including county councils which provide for adults and young people with learning and physical disabilities and elderly residents needing specialist housing. County councils work closely with their partners to maximise housing delivery and face challenges in achieving a strategic approach to provision, as infrastructure functions are split—as we all know—between district and county councils. The County Councils Network supports more strategic planning, which still allows for local input but means that a joined-up approach can be taken to housing, infrastructure and other services across county areas. Metropolitan and unitary authorities also have many of these problems.
Given that all sections of local government have considerable concerns about accommodating aspiring home owners and those wishing to rent, as well as the vulnerable and homeless in their communities, I press the Minister to say exactly what the Government will do to rectify this problem. It needs much more than a sticking plaster to effect a long-term solution.
I would add “acceptability” to the key words “quality” and “affordability” in the title of the noble Baroness’s important Question—I listened with particular care because I live not so far away from her in Somerset and understand exactly the issues to which she referred, strongly supporting as I do the Government’s housing policies—because, at a time of unparalleled demand for both homes to rent, whether in the public or private sector, and to buy, an equally key inhibitor to the pace of new building is local resistance to plans for new build, much less generally on brownfield sites than on greenfield land, from those who live nearby.
I do not believe that such feelings can be dismissed as mere nimbyism—that is to be arrogant towards those people who care about their local neighbourhoods and landscapes, even though I strongly believe that we must build more—for, too often, the design of many new homes in privately built areas is poor, if not sometimes downright crummy and ugly. The homes are tiny—the smallest in Europe. Try putting a broom in a cupboard in some newly constructed homes in both the public and private sector and you will find you need the skills of a contortionist to make this possible.
The landscaping at the edges of so much new housing is equally sketchy if not non-existent—the kind of hard edges to a building development which do not help the landscape at all. The pollution of the night sky by over-lighting is often damaging in the extreme, both to the people who live around and those who move into those housing estates. These are not just the despairing cries of architectural or landscape aesthetes. If local authorities and mass housebuilders deal with these issues, they will not necessarily make such new building, particularly on greenfield or edge-of-village sites, welcomed with open arms, but they will make it much more easily accepted in the long term, mitigating in the interim years of protest and probably delay in construction, which neither the Government nor those who want new homes wish.
Local authorities have fewer resources, so they have fewer architects, whether for the built environment or for landscapes. Some big housebuilders seem to have no architects at all. They are staffed mostly by people who turn over the concepts for the houses or flats they wish to build to simple so-called designers, whose job is to cram as much as possible on as little as possible, rather than using architects to raise the quality of the built environment and design and thus to improve not only the acceptability of those new homes I wish to see, but their speed of construction and, in the end, their profitability for companies and shareholders alike. Good design is not expensive; it is just thoughtful design and it is vital in our housing drive. I hope that that is a totally bipartisan or tripartisan—or indeed involving the Bishops—point of view, or whatever other link we have in the Chamber this evening. There is nothing party political about this.
The laying of roads and building of homes is an irreversible step. There is no turning back—land built on is never returned to the plough or woodland—so it is the bounden duty of housebuilders in the public and private sectors to do all they can to improve the sometimes shoddy and gimcrack designs of what they run up, and of the architectural profession to help break down the sometimes iron curtain between them and the mass housebuilders and fulfil the Government’s excellent plans. However, if these issues are not dealt with—I do not wish to see some government gauleiter or design overlord coming in to say that something has to be designed this way or that way—I am fearful that, in the hundreds of thousands of new houses and flats we need to see built in the next five years or so, we may be presiding over the kind of poor and destructive blots on the landscape that none of us wishes to see. I hope that the Government will take these concerns seriously.
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, for introducing this debate. I want to draw detailed attention to the impact on people of living in small spaces.
Five years ago, the Royal Institute of British Architects said that family homes being sold by the UK’s eight biggest private housebuilders were on average eight square metres smaller than the minimum housing standard for the UK. Eight square metres is the size of a small bedroom. RIBA said that homes across the UK got smaller and smaller as prices rose higher and higher and waiting lists grew longer and longer.
I want to make three points, based on a recent study of micro-housing tenants. First, small living spaces put extra tasks into a busy working day. If a person cannot go to bed until they have folded away their dining table and unfolded their bed, after a while they may never unfold the dining table. Their living space becomes little more than a bed. This is not uncommon; it happens frequently in the big cities, including London.
Secondly, people who work in busy urban places cope with routine pressures in the form of space and noise. Tiny urban homes mean that this continues after work. People might live with the soundtrack of their neighbour’s favourite TV shows. They might constantly feel that they need to keep their own noise down. Home is not a peaceful place, nor is it a private place—and that is unacceptable.
Thirdly, there are impacts for families living in very small spaces. If children cannot move around and make a noise, their health and concentration suffer. Their family’s well-being suffers, too. We know that all these things cause stress, are detrimental to health and lead to families having a sense of unease, and feeling unsettled and unhappy.
I recognise that our housing crisis has caused small spaces to look like attractive options to some people, particularly if they are affordable and close to work. Some people may use them as a temporary solution; others may need them as long-term homes. Some small homes are thoughtfully designed, with good windows and access to outside spaces, but many of them do not provide these things. In those cases, homes can be hard and restrictive places.
Despite the many other dimensions of our housing crisis that we have heard about before in this Chamber and will no doubt hear about tonight, living spaces across different income brackets have become particularly difficult, especially for people at the bottom of the scale.
I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Patten, about design. This is partly the same problem: it is about rushing up something quickly that does not meet the needs of the medium-term and long-term future, and families suffer because of it. We must come to grips with this. There is a tendency to think, because the housing crisis is so severe, “Oh my goodness, it’s better to have a box than nothing”. I read in the Evening Standard that people are looking at putting up Portakabins, which is better than being homeless. But we cannot afford to let that be the standard. We must lift our eyes and imaginations and try to create the same kind of homes for this generation as we were lucky enough to enjoy when we were younger.
As an urgent step, would the Minister write to me and others in the House with an update on the progress of the nationally described space standard introduced in 2015? What difference has it made so far and what difference can it make? How can it be put into action more effectively in the places where it is most needed? I do not expect that answer tonight but I would very much like to see it in writing at the appropriate time.
My Lords, I must declare my registered interests, including that of chair of the housing association Housing & Care 21. I will make only two points, a general one and one in relation to retirement housing.
The Government are possibly at a turning point in their approach to housing because of their concerns about the national economy and that they will not achieve the objectives they set themselves. I hope that as the Government develop their plans to boost the amount of housebuilding they will recognise that to get more new homes built they must encourage all sectors of housebuilding, not just the promotion of private ownership. We will never get more than 160,000 or 170,000 homes per year—an absolute maximum—unless we have a much more general approach to housing policy. Private developers will build only houses they think will sell. Frankly, in the current uncertainty of the Brexit climate they will hold back on houses they are building. We must encourage larger developments that are more likely to be pushed out quicker and where there is commitment to mixed development—with private sale housing built alongside private rented and social rented accommodation—as well as encouraging provision for self-build and shared ownership. The plans to regenerate public-sector housing estates in our cities—a vital priority—will be achieved only if we have the same approach of partnership between the private and public sectors.
Secondly, on retirement housing, I think we all accept in this House—it is probably more immediate to our own outlooks on life—that the release of much-needed family housing plus the need to contain costs within the National Health Service mean we must promote much more independent living for retired people through accommodation that is well designed and supported for them and that takes them through into extra-care housing as well. To ensure that happens, I ask the Minister to look again at the Government’s current proposals to limit housing benefit to the local housing living allowance. Currently, that will take no account of the extra property costs for this type of retirement housing. That means that they are proposing, from 2019, to impose on existing retirement residents the need to pay—it will be deducted from housing benefit—the difference between the local housing living allowance and the actual rent. In almost all cases, the cost for these retirement properties will be higher because of the extra facilities they need. If the Government are not careful, they will have a reinvention of the bedroom tax regarding the retired population in this type of accommodation. It will also undermine plans by housing associations to fulfil commitments to their funders to develop more of this type of housing which is urgently needed. The result will be simply less development.
The Government need to look at this again. I know they have been looking at supported housing in general but they need to look at retirement housing quickly. People are already moving into this type of accommodation and will need to be warned of the extra charges that the Government are to impose on them. If they do not do this quickly they will hold up development of this type of housing, just at the time that the economy needs it.
My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Baroness for creating this opportunity to air these important matters. I had thought that the time was short so was going to confine myself to a very few points and I will resist the temptation to change my plan.
I just received a first draft of research that I commissioned into population trends and housing growth for the next 30 years in my diocese of west Kent, Medway and parts of south-east London. On the basis of known local authority plans, developer plans and projections, a population of 1.3 million is projected to increase by some 25% in that period. That is a lot of new homes—almost certainly 100,000 or more in a relatively small geographical area.
On affordability, if we are to maintain a healthy and mixed economy with jobs at different stages and levels in the employment world, as well as diverse and cohesive communities, it is crucial for a good proportion of those homes to be seriously affordable. I encourage us not to walk away from the debate about what is “affordable”, particularly in areas of high housing cost. As we already heard, ratios of average house price to average income in many parts of the country, not least the south-east, are extremely alarming.
On quality, my point is not so much about the quality of individual homes—some of that was mentioned by other noble Lords—but rather the question of good-quality living space in the broadest sense; that is, neighbourhood and social infrastructure as well as what might be called physical infrastructure. It is fairly easy to say that this is not the strongest suit of the volume housebuilders. Indeed, it is not their reason for existence. Even local authorities, which have an important continuing interest in these matters, are by and large no longer the direct providers of those things that build community and social infrastructure. Those with long experience in doing this are the community and voluntary sectors, including housing associations, residents’ groups, church and other faith bodies. We have been doing it for a long time.
Personally, I am delighted that in relation to the largest housing development in my area—a pretty big one: Ebbsfleet Garden City—we are already well engaged in conversations with the development corporation, developers and others about these matters of what the voluntary and other sectors can add in terms of community infrastructure. I urge that the capacity of these sectors be recognised, enhanced and ensured, and that, whether in policy documents or other ways, the Government see to it that representatives of these sectors have a place at the various tables where the quality of future housing developments is considered.
My Lords, I first declare my interests as an active property developer with an interest as a director and shareholder in several developments, notably in a development of houses in Bicester and future developments in Sussex and Scotland. All these are noted in the register.
We are asked how to improve affordability in housing, to which the trite answer must be to build more houses. However, the Government could take several actions now to make a difference. I have mentioned before the difficulty of getting planning permission and the slow processing of large applications. One quick win might be to look at the protection of great crested newts as the rules on this awful amphibian are said to be entirely from the EU. This benighted creature is, I am told, endangered on a European scale but not on a British scale. I ask my noble friend the Minister to look at this problem with a post-Brexit eye. The danger is that newts can be, and are, transported to controversial sites by objectors in order to delay property developments that they dislike.
A simple change that can be made is to reduce the taxation level on developers, with a view to encouraging them to build, rather than overburdening them. In addition to normal corporation tax, a developer will provide social housing at a rate of between 30% and 40% of all houses built. Add to that new schools, new roads, new bus services, new playing fields, new community centres, new community art and new books in the local library—all necessary, of course, but all expensive. The simple rule is that if you add more taxes, you get fewer new entrants to a market. I hope I can be understood to be arguing not for less tax on my interests but for more development of the houses we desperately need.
Some time ago, the Government introduced the new homes bonus into the financing structure of local authorities, and many people thought that this would go some way to solving the problem of the shortage of housing. Authorities which could predict a problem, such as the funding of a library or the possible closure of a day centre, could say, “If we grant permission for 100 houses now, the bonus will pay to solve that problem”. But the bonus is structured, subtly, to stop that thinking by paying it over four years, not instantly. That neatly removes the connection between granting permission and getting receipt of the bonus. Bonuses are normally a reward and incentive for desirable behaviour, as we all know, and the Treasury mandarins would presumably be against their own bonuses being paid slowly. Could my noble friend the Minister comment on this?
My Lords, I am a member of your Lordships’ Economic Affairs Select Committee. In July we produced our report on the housing market, Building More Homes. We concluded that the only practical way of increasing the affordability of housing is to increase supply, and that the only practical way of producing decent, secure homes for those who will never be able to buy is to increase the supply of social housing.
The Government have promised 1 million new homes by 2020. Even if this target is met, it will not be nearly enough to make houses more affordable. The Treasury estimates that even if these 1 million houses were built by 2020, house prices would still rise by 5% or 6% every year—way above the rate of wage increases. But even this target of 1 million by 2020 may not be met. The Government have claimed that starter homes will make the largest contribution to new build, with 200,000 starts. But in July, when we published our report, work on starter homes had yet to begin. I ask the Minister: three months on, have any starter homes in fact been started? Is 1 million new homes by 2020 still the Government’s target?
Whether or not that is still the Government’s target, it is unrealistic to rely on the private sector to build significantly more homes when its business model is, entirely understandably, maximisation of margin, not volume. The Treasury says that we need between 250,000 and 300,000 new homes every year simply to keep the house price to earnings ratio constant—constant, that is, at its currently very high level. If we are to do this and if we are not to neglect those who will never be able to afford to buy, we must involve local authorities and housing associations.
However, housing associations are constrained by George Osborne’s cuts to social rent. Local authorities are constrained by their legal inability to borrow to build houses. It is absurd that local authorities are free to borrow to build swimming pools but not to build new homes. Within normal prudential restraints, local authorities must be allowed to borrow to build homes; otherwise, house prices will rise even further out of reach and the supply of good, affordable and secure rented accommodation will not increase. That would be a social and economic disaster.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, for introducing this important debate. I find myself echoing some of the points that were well made by the noble Lords, Lord Stoneham and Lord Starkey, in particular.
I welcome very much the Government’s renewed commitment to build 1 million more homes by 2020. But who is going to build these homes and address issues of quality and affordability? We know that the housebuilders will not deliver more than 50% or 60% of the new homes that are so badly needed. This is because they will not accelerate their output, even where they have the land and the planning consents, any faster than they can sell at a good profit. Some councils, as we have heard, are willing to become major housebuilders again, but few are ready and able to do more because of unnecessary public spending rules and the acute financial pressures on all their services. Private landlords have not actually built new homes for decades. I greatly welcome the emerging new sector of build-to-rent developers, funded by institutional investors and offering more security and good management, but I doubt they will produce more than 2% or 3% of the Government’s 1 million home target, and they are bound to concentrate on the more affluent tenant.
This all leads me to conclude that the best bet today to get enough decent homes built is to harness the resources and commitment of the housing associations. These can produce at least a third of all the new homes we so desperately need. Yet many of these bodies are looking less ambitious and less optimistic about increasing their output. First, this is because their income from rents has taken a battering from the welfare cuts that have directly and indirectly reduced their income, while making life harder for tenants. The Department for Work and Pensions must ensure that its measures to reduce housing benefit do not simply reduce supply.
Secondly, the Department for Communities and Local Government needs to adopt a more flexible approach to the tenures and types of new homes it supports. It is not helpful to insist that housebuilders cut out the quota of affordable rented homes that currently they are obliged to build and pass over to housing associations, instead requiring them just to build starter homes for sale. Direct funding for housing associations should not be tied slavishly to shared-ownership accommodation, when there is a desperate need in so many places for affordable rented and, indeed, retirement housing.
There have been encouraging comments on a change of emphasis from the new Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell. Can the Minister confirm that flexibility is indeed the new watchword in housing policy? Only then can there be a significant increase in the number of affordable, decent-quality homes, which the housing associations are ready and willing to provide.
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, on securing a debate on this urgent issue and attracting so many contributing speakers.
Chartered Institute of Housing figures show new housing supply continuing to fall behind new household growth. In England, annual supply remains 60,000 short of the break-even point with household growth. Will the Minister explain what the Government have done and are doing to ensure that the housing market delivers for everyone?
Problems of affordability—higher prices—are linked to greater demand. It is the basic law of supply and demand; if demand is greater than supply, prices will go up. The long-term trend towards smaller household size—lower headship rates—and thus larger household numbers is mainly due to older households, greater prosperity and increased divorce and separation. By 2037, the decline in headship rates will account for a third of the total growth in household numbers. We do not want less of the first two factors but reducing our high rates of divorce and separation would significantly dampen demand.
There were 115,696 divorces and civil partnership dissolutions in England and Wales in 2013, and a far less precise number of separating cohabitees, whose relationships are twice as unstable as marriages. Divorces were highest among couples aged 40 to 44, very many of whom have dependent children who will want overnight stays with both their parents. Accommodating this understandable desire requires two family-sized homes. Yes, some separating parents can afford only a single room in a shared house, while re-partnering leads to household rationalisation, but fractured families still place significant pressure on housing stock.
Much of the increasing homelessness among young people and adults is due to family and relationship breakdown. In 2012, Croydon Council reported a 53% rise in homelessness caused by family breakdown. The public understand this link: in a Eurobarometer study, a fifth of British adults stated that break-ups or the loss of a close relative cause homelessness. Housing problems also drive family breakdown. Squalid and unstable housing severely strains relationships—the noble Lord, Lord Sawyer, referred to this earlier—but, as already stated, prosperity has also driven smaller household size.
Policy to support family relationships has been consistently neglected by Governments; it requires as much attention as our housing stock. Can my noble friend the Minister inform the House when the promised family stability indicator will be delivered and precisely how it will drive this Government’s support for communities experiencing the highest levels of family instability, and thereby reduce the housing demand that family breakdown brings about?
My Lords, this timely debate focuses on the issues of housing quality and affordability —matters scarcely addressed in the Housing and Planning Act over which this House laboured for four months. Even now, five months after Royal Assent, we await the outcome of consultations on a range of provisions included in what a Conservative Peer described as “this terrible, terrible Bill”—let alone the secondary legislation that will translate its aspirations into practice. As to the latter, it is high time that the Government reported on progress in relation to consultation and the likely timetable for the incoming tide of regulations that will implement the policies embodied in the Act. Perhaps the Minister could enlighten us as to that timetable.
Quality was not featured in the Bill, which was essentially designed to run down council and, in effect, social housing to finance and promote owner occupation. Let me be clear: the aspiration of home ownership is absolutely legitimate and should be encouraged, but not at the expense of those whose housing needs cannot be met by that sector. The quality of new-build housing in terms of space standards and energy efficiency, to which some of your Lordships have referred, lags behind that of our continental neighbours—thanks in no small part to the coalition Government’s deliberate weakening of requirements, especially in relation to the latter. When I was first elected a councillor in Newcastle in 1967, houses were built to Parker Morris standards, long since abandoned. As I have mentioned before in this Chamber, in that year Newcastle City Council built 3,000 council houses.
In some ways, the most disturbing feature of government policy has been the weight given to affordability. For social housing tenants this is defined not in relation to their income but as 80% of what private landlords can charge as market rents in a time of acute housing shortage. All too often, this imposes real hardship. Characteristically, the Government seek to buy votes via the right to buy both council and housing association homes, funded in part by the sale of so-called high-value properties. If there are insufficient sales, the Government will impose a levy on councils.
The starter homes programmes will confer large, untaxed capital gains on purchasers, especially at the top end of the new house price range, wholly irrespective of means. First-time buyers from comfortably-off families in London, for example, will enjoy a discount of up to some £90,000 and the no-doubt inevitable rise in value on resale. Meanwhile, social housing provision faces the prospect of not only the loss of accommodation through right to buy but the pernicious effects of the Government’s enforced reduction of rents in the sector—nothing, of course, is being done in that respect in the private sector. This even includes supported housing. Money which would have been invested in maintaining and improving the existing stock of council and housing association properties, and perhaps contributed to the provision of desperately needed new, genuinely affordable homes, will now be used by the Government to reduce the cost of housing benefit—though not, of course, in the private rented sector.
In Newcastle alone, the enforced 1% rent reduction policy will lead to a 12% reduction in rental income by 2020—or £40 million, rising over time to £590 million. On a national scale, we are looking at a loss of investment in council housing running into billions. In addition, the council will in the meantime suffer a levy on high-value properties, as I have said, whether or not they are sold. Again, we will be looking at millions of pounds lost, though in the absence of any clarity from the Government it is impossible at this stage to be precise about the impact. I do not know whether the Minister will be able to give us any estimate of what that is expected to realise.
Finally, there is the impact on housebuilding. The Conservative-led Local Government Association has estimated that 88,000 council homes will be sold by 2020 and predicts that 80,000 of these homes will not be replaced. These figures will no doubt be echoed in relation to housing association homes. The warm words of the Prime Minister, Mrs May, on the steps of 10 Downing Street sounded like a return to relatively benign Conservatism of the kind that Harold Macmillan embodied as Housing Minister in the early 1950s when, among other things, he encouraged the building of council homes. He must be spinning in his grave.
My Lords, I rise to raise the important issue of supported homes and to ask the Minister what plans the Government have to provide more supported housing for disadvantaged groups of people.
For example, there are very many young people, care leavers in particular, who live in temporary accommodation, stay with friends, stay with relatives or sofa-surf and often end up rough sleeping and open to criminal influences. There are specialist housing associations which provide accommodation for such people, but there are not enough of them. I understand that one of the reasons given for high levels of reoffending by ex-offenders is a lack of suitable supported accommodation to enable them to take responsibility for their own lives. I would like the Government to look into more housing for women suffering from domestic violence. There is some accommodation, but not enough. Very often these people end up rough sleeping on our streets. Problems with getting people off drugs are exacerbated by the fact that often these people have nowhere to go and no support. Very often they end up in areas which are effectively drug supermarkets. We have to look at how better and more appropriate accommodation can be provided for these people.
There is a need for much more social housing. As we have heard, the Government are very keen on home ownership. As everyone says, nobody is against home ownership, but I know very many families in my city who will never be able to afford to own their own home. The number of social housing properties is going down as they are being sold off, and as we are selling off housing association accommodation too, that hits supported housing projects for people who really need it. Will the Minister say what plans the Government have for this kind of specialised accommodation and how more of it might be provided?
I do not believe that we cannot have lots more housing and good design. When I was leader of Bristol City Council, Bristol was the green capital. We visited lots of places in Europe with high-quality, high-density design, not high-rise flats but properly designed communities with infrastructure and schools using sustainable material. If we are looking at a high-quality environment, perhaps we should be looking at that in Europe.
There are three questions there. What is going to happen about more specialised supported housing? How are we going to increase social housing and provide accommodation for all those people who need it in cities with rising waiting lists? What will the Government do to encourage a high-quality environment? Perhaps this is again something on which we should learn from our neighbours in Europe.
My Lords, I welcome this timely debate regarding future housing growth. We have the largest affordable housing programme since the 1970s, with a £20 billion investment responding to the 86% of people who want to have the opportunity to get on the ladder and buy their own homes. I declare my interest, as set out in the register, as leader of a local authority.
Good local government needs to play a key role in establishing an ambitious vision not only for individual areas but for combined areas, such as Greater Lincolnshire. I shall quickly focus on Greater Lincolnshire Combined Authority’s devolution deal, which recognises the demand. In response, it is committed to support the development of 25,000 new homes by 2021 and 100,000 new homes over the next 20 years. With direct intervention, our combined authorities, working together with the HCA, are committed to invest £100 million of their own resources in the local housing market.
In North Lincolnshire, we propose to go for garden city status. We recognise our part in stimulating our housing areas. One ambitious project—the Lincolnshire Lakes concept—will transform the image and economy of North Lincolnshire. The lakes development is a £1.2 billion project which is dependent on front-loading major new infrastructure. As we know, access and connectivity are important, as is social infrastructure. The project will create a new marina, a business park, leisure attractions, a new Scunthorpe United football stadium and 7,000 new homes in six new villages built around five newly created lakes on eight square miles. It will be three times the size of Venice and very unique. It is about pulling together all the interested parties.
We are making a big push to encourage residents to own their own homes. We are holding drop-in sessions to discuss a variety of home-ownership options, such as custom-built, ISA, right-to-buy shared ownership, discounted market buy et cetera—demonstrating quite clearly that we are committed not only to starter homes, but to a wider range, in conjunction with the Government’s wider ambitions.
Another area we are hoping to focus on is starter-home sites, particularly those closer to the town centre, which will help link, stimulate and support town-centre regeneration, increasing footfall to supply a 24-hour economy. We, like other authorities, have a clear and co-ordinated framework to help shape national, regional and local priorities in a way that brings together economic and spatial strategies, helping to cement an improvement to our towns and rural areas so that people can be proud of where they live and which offers them real choice.
The quality of life, the health and the well-being of residents are heavily influenced by the place in which they live and work. Speed is of the essence, and we certainly need to be in a catch-up mode with our housing programmes, as well as influencing positive design quality to enhance that vision. It is important, too, to have a close working relationship with the HCA, as well as with the private sector, and bring forward stalled sites.
Finally, I stress the importance of partnership working, with one aim, that of supporting new housing areas. We know that brings with it access to job opportunities, so people seeking work have a real choice of where to live, a choice of good schools and, again, a choice of well-designed, quality housing, improving people’s quality of life, for their families, for the long term and particularly for our future generations.
My Lords, I am delighted that the time has been extended and that I am able to speak in the gap. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, on getting this interesting debate, which is so relevant at present. I remind the House that my interest is in the register and on record. I agree with the noble Baroness that quality and affordability are very important issues, and I was also interested that my noble friend Lord Patten used the word “accessibility”, whereas I would use the word “availability”. The little difference between the two is quite interesting, but I bring that word forward because I am very concerned about the dramatic reduction in the number of properties to let in London. Capital cities throughout the world are being badly affected by this craze for holiday lettings, usually carried out illegally, as court decisions have made clear. If your lease says you cannot do a short let, then why should you be able to do it?
The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, mentioned last year and the time we spent on the Housing and Planning Bill. Sadly, we are still waiting for the draft regulations. We were assured they would be coming promptly, but nothing has happened. That has been very disappointing, but I was even more disappointed by the Deregulation Act, which threw out council controls of any sort of short-term letting or checks on who is in a property that is meant to be available for long-term letting to residents. Instead, such lets are being converted into full-time holiday and tourist lets, often very much to the detriment of other long-term residents in the blocks. It is more that people are out to make more money, and they can make much more money out of doing short lets. Although we were told that 90 days a year would be restrictive enough, it turns out that if you plan your 90 days around January, you can have 180 continuous days—I think my maths is correct. But people are not even bothering with that: they are letting places the whole year on short-term lets, which are registered mostly with Airbnb or similar organisations. At a time when Paris and New York—it is capital cities that are the worst affected—were proposing regulation, we were deregulating. That was a very unfortunate move, and I am hoping that some control will be brought back and that councils will have a minor role, but at least a role and a right to check on what is happening.
Westminster Council used to have six officers constantly checking who was doing an illegal or legal short let. People used to come to your door and say, “Who are you?”. You were meant to have applied for it—I cannot remember whether it was 10 days before, but it was a fair time. As times have moved on, and people are used to being able to fly somewhere at 24 hours’ notice, that was really not very relevant any more. Instead, the council said it would be willing to introduce a 24-hour registration, but at least it could have gone to someone’s door and said, “Who are you, how many of you are living in this property and how long are you here for?”. The whole concept of this originally was that you should be able to come and live in a room with your host and get a feeling of how people really lived in a country—see life locally, as it was. Instead, that has turned into large and lucrative full-time holiday letting which is affecting hotels adversely and is really quite worrying.
I have a Question next week on this subject, on Wednesday 19 October, and I hope the people who have taken part in the debate today will join in then on aspects that they think are relevant, because it is a serious matter. We cannot afford to lose long-term residential houses. The loss has been very great, and it is definitely to the disadvantage of people wishing to live in London to suddenly find a great shrinkage in the number of properties available. It was very interesting to hear the noble Lord, Lord Best; I can listen to him on the subject for ever because he knows so much about it. He said that under the build-to-rent scheme, which I had high hopes for, no more than 2% or 3% of the properties that are needed will be produced, and that is a cause for concern as well.
Time is running away now, and although we have plenty of time available for this debate I do not want to take too much of it. However, I will mention in passing that the leader of Camden Council appeared on television a week or so ago deploring the complete loss of residential accommodation to let in that area, and I think that is largely due to these tourist lettings and people out to make a killing.
My Lords, this has been a valuable debate. We have heard about the acceptability and availability of housing; design quality; the importance of adequate living spaces and the value of Parker Morris standards; the importance of all sectors working in partnership to maximise the number of new homes; the level of local housing allowance; how we can increase the supply of new homes and the constraints on achieving that; issues around affordability; the importance of local flexibility to maximise the supply of new housing; the impact of family breakdown on the need for more homes; the problems caused by the Housing and Planning Act and the timetable for regulations in connection with that; and the impact of rent reductions on the amount of new housing development that can be secured.
I look forward to the Minister’s reply to those points, partly because I sense a new tone in government announcements about housing and perhaps a new policy approach on its way. One indicator of that is the Prime Minister’s wish to give extra help to those who are “just managing”, although I think that will have to be extended to include the many who are struggling. Another indicator is the Secretary of State’s refreshing admission last week that the Government have a moral duty to tackle the housing crisis, and I welcome that.
One problem that the Government have is that they have wanted to put all their eggs into one basket, owner-occupation, despite constant warnings in this Chamber and elsewhere that more had to be done to support the social rented sector. Another problem is that the Government have been defining homes as “affordable” when to many people they are nothing of the sort. Average house prices are six times earnings now in England and Wales, up from four times earnings in 2002. It is no surprise that there has been a sharp fall in home ownership from 72% of the housing stock in 2003 at its peak, declining by one-third since then across England.
The Government have a housebuilding commitment —I emphasise the word “commitment” as it is not a target; the words were changed in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year—to build 1 million new homes by 2020 at a rate of 200,000 a year. In a recent Question in your Lordships’ House, I reminded the Minister that in August, Shelter forecast that the Government would undershoot their 1 million homes target by some 250,000. That is why social homes for rent have become so important, yet social housing is now at a record low in terms of new building. New homes for social rent funded by the Government fell to fewer than 10,000 last year, while the House of Commons Library produced evidence recently showing that £380 million has been added to the Government’s benefits bill because people unable to secure social rented housing are being forced into the private sector, where rents in very many areas are higher and where the quality, as we have heard, can be poor.
The Government have been propping up the owner-occupied market at the expense of the rented sector. Government support for affordable and social rented properties stands at about £2 billion over the life of this Parliament, yet the support for owner-occupation is many times that. We need a better balance, and the Prime Minister’s concern for the “just managing” confirms that.
My noble friend Lord Sharkey reminded us that local councils—I declare my vice-presidency of the Local Government Association—have capacity to build more homes. As he pointed out, they can be trusted to borrow prudently under existing prudential borrowing rules. I very much hope that the Government will reconsider, because we have been trying to get them to do this for several years.
The crucial point is this: the private sector will not build enough homes during the next few years. I hope that the Government’s new-found “moral duty”, in the words of the Secretary of State, will deliver measures that use all the levers available to enable all those with the potential to deliver homes to do so.
My Lords, first, I refer noble Lords to my declaration of interests and declare that I am an elected councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham and a vice-president of the Local Government Association. I join other noble Lords in congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, on securing this important debate today.
In my brief remarks, I say that housing and the various issues surrounding this whole subject is something to which we will return again and again in this House, and that is to be welcomed. The underlying issue is that we need to build more good-quality homes of a variety of tenures at much greater speed. We can all trade a variety of statistics about who built what and when, but the underlying issue is that we have a serious housing crisis and current levels of housebuilding are nowhere near enough.
I was pleased when I read the comments by the new Housing Minister, Mr Gavin Barwell MP, when he talked about the importance of building homes of every type of tenure, not focusing on one. I vividly recall our debates in this House during the passage of the Housing and Planning Act in the previous Session and never being able to get a straight answer from the Government when they talked about this cohort of people who had to be helped with the starter homes project at the expense of all other tenures. Any move to a more realistic, balanced policy in respect of addressing the housing needs of the country is very much to be welcomed. To make our communities work in both urban and rural areas, we need a mixture of housing types that a variety of people and families can afford to rent or buy, to make where they live sustainable.
For most of my life, with the exception of 15 years in the Midlands, I have lived in south London. I grew up in council housing, first on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark. When moving to the Midlands on being promoted at work, I lived in the private rented sector, and then I bought my own home. I suspect that that is the sort of journey that many people take when starting out, moving from renting into home ownership; a lot of people aspire to own their own home. Government policy must be to support and create the conditions for communities, families and people to flourish, with good-quality housing in a variety of tenures.
I agree with the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, about the average housing cost ratio to household incomes. I am alarmed when I look in estate agent windows where I live in south London to see that, often, rent for properties in my street and neighbouring streets is far in excess of what people pay on their mortgages—£2,000 and £2,500 a month in the private rented sector to rent an ordinary three-bedroom Victorian terraced house. That is a huge sum of money for struggling families to pay.
As I said, I serve as a councillor, and I am a member of the planning committee. The noble Lord, Lord Patten, raised some important points, but as councillors or officers there is often little we can do, because powers to scale things back have been stripped away from planning committees and councillors. He made some very important points about the quality of development we see now.
My noble friend Lord Sawyer spoke about the space standards of properties, and I agree very much with his comments. It is regrettable that the Parker Morris standards for social housing were removed, to which my noble friend Lord Beecham referred.
The noble Lord, Lord Stoneham of Droxford, was right when he spoke about the need for retirement housing. I serve as a trustee of the United St Saviours Charity in Southwark, founded in 1541. We are building a new almshouse—an almshouse for the 21st century—in Bermondsey and hope to provide good-quality, supported housing to help free up much-needed family accommodation in the borough.
The noble Lord, Lord Best, raised the problem of developers effectively banking land with planning permissions for development and seeking to hold that back and benefit from increased values rather than get on and build the properties we need. I am a councillor in Crofton Park and we have an unsightly plot of land that we can never get developed. We have had numerous planning permissions that are never agreed. A sign goes up saying, “With full planning permission for various developments”, but it never actually gets developed. We need to look at how we can get these sites developed. It is not councils holding them up, but they just sit there with nothing happening, so we need some action from the Government.
My noble friend Lord Beecham pointed out the unaffordability of many of the so-called affordable rents. That is a huge problem in London and in other parts of the country. The noble Lord, Lord Farmer, made some important points regarding family break-ups and pressures on families. I certainly think that the unaffordability of housing is a huge pressure on families, as was the destruction of the Sure Start programme on young families. It is regrettable what the Government did there. These are all very important points that we need to look at.
This has been an excellent debate and I look forward to the noble Lord, Lord Bourne, responding to the points raised. We shall come back to this issue again and again.
My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their contributions to this debate and, in doing that, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell, on introducing it as fairly and forcefully as she did.
This is a very important area and we have had some excellent contributions. I shall open with some general comments and give an undertaking that anything I do not cover in the time available will be covered in a write-round to noble Lords who have participated, picking up all the points made.
As has been rightly said, on entering Downing Street the Prime Minister set out the Government’s ambition to achieve a country that works for everyone and to help those who are just getting by, as the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, said. In doing that, she sought to ensure that the Government address the housing shortage. Doing all that we can to build more affordable quality homes is at the centre of this ambition.
The extent of the housing shortage in this country needs no introduction. The noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, fairly said that we have to see how we address this shortage with a range of tenures at some speed. This did not just suddenly happen. All parties have to answer for this as they have been part of Governments over the period when this problem has been growing. A range of noble Lords referred to demographic changes and population growth, which have exacerbated the issue. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester, the noble Lords, Lord Borwick, Lord Sharkey and Lord Farmer, and others referred quite rightly to the fact that the problem has become accentuated because of the demographic changes and population growth we have seen, and indeed continue to see.
The consequences of standing still are clear: 50% of today’s 45 year-olds were homeowners by the time they were 30; for those born 10 years’ later the figure is just 35%; and only 26% of those who are 25 today are projected to be homeowners in five years’ time. I realise that we are talking about not just home ownership but a variety of tenures. That is absolutely right, but nevertheless, as the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, correctly said, most people aspire to own homes in their lifetime. Most of us here—I suspect all of us—own our own homes. If we keep building at the current rate, by 2025 the house of the average owner-occupier in the south-east will increase in value by £1,000 a week. Obviously that has a read-across to rental values as well.
The problem is clear. Home ownership is in danger of becoming a preserve of the privileged few, and it is a serious challenge for many, by the same token, to be able to afford to rent. There is little doubt of that. The Government are committed to solving the housing crisis by every means possible; the fundamental solution is simple to state, but complex to deliver. We need to build more homes—and it is correct to say with a variety of tenures. At the last spending review, the Government pledged to invest £20 billion in housing over this Parliament—not a small amount—and we will deliver on these plans. I do not think that noble Lords have mentioned this, but I shall do so: last week, we went further, launching a £3 billion home builders fund and a £2 billion investment in accelerated construction to deliver more housing on surplus public sector land. We also announced additional reforms to make our planning system fit for purpose by supporting development in our cities.
Of course, alongside building more homes, we want to do more to ensure that these are quality homes which people want to live in. Many noble Lords have referred to the interaction between design and affordability and having quality homes. The noble Lord, Lord Patten, talked about the prospect of more acceptance for good design—if it is a good design, it is acceptable to communities. I take that point completely; it is central to what we are doing.
The Government want to ensure that everyone has a safe and secure place to live. Our record to date on housebuilding is a strong one: we have delivered over 704,000 additional homes since April 2010 and we have committed to the largest affordable housebuilding programme by any Government since the 1970s. The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, made many good points, but he talked about Macmillan spinning in his grave. I think Macmillan would actually be rather pleased with Prime Minister Theresa May’s attitude to the public sector and towards housebuilding; he would probably be much more in tune with her than Clement Attlee would be with the current leader of the Labour Party, for example. I do not see many noble Lords opposite me shaking their heads—in fact, I do not see any.
We have taken steps to help people on the path to home ownership. Our Help to Buy equity loan is helping many people to purchase their own homes. But it is absolutely right that we ensure that there is a variety of tenures available. We are pledging to help with homes to rent—we are talking to the Mayor of London and the London Assembly about how we can assist with housebuilding in London. A particularly important sector for London is the private rented sector.
In the time remaining, I shall try to pick up points made by noble Lords. Those that I am unable or do not have time to address I shall ensure are covered in the write-around. This point was made by the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell—we are taking action to tackle rogue landlords. We have a £12 million programme to help local authorities to enforce action against rogue landlords. She referred, as did many noble Lords, to the interaction with poor health and energy efficiency. The noble Lord, Lord Farmer, rightly said that family breakdown was another factor that has to be looked at in relation to this issue.
The noble Lord, Lord Sawyer, is absolutely right that space standards are central. Building regulations have not been mentioned a lot but they contribute to the quality of homes, as does the National Planning Policy Framework, which has a whole chapter devoted to design—chapter 7—which is important in this context. The Government introduced a national space standard in October 2015, which local authorities can adopt in their local planning policy, subject to establishing need and viability. Now is a good time to see how that is working in practice. We committed to reviewing that standard during the passage of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, and I am currently considering the terms of reference for that review process. We will make a decision on that in due course, and make it public.
The noble Lord, Lord Stoneham, talked about a turning point on housing for this Government, which he very fairly noted was probably happening. As he said, we need to boost the amount of housebuilding and not just by promoting private ownership—although, of course, we need to recognise that it is a valid aspiration, as noble Lords across the Chamber have said. We should certainly regard it as central, although not exclusively so, in looking at this issue.
The noble Lord, Lord Stoneham, also referred to how we address the extra cost of supported housing and the retirement housing scheme. He will know that we are addressing supported housing and will consult on how we do it with a new programme in 2019. I will look at the issue of retirement housing, which he quite fairly brought up, and address it in the letter which I will send to noble Lords.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester talked about population growth. I agree with his point about the quality of the neighbourhood. It is not just about housing: it is broader than that. He talked about the importance of community and I am grateful for his assistance and input on what is happening at Ebbsfleet. We are looking at the design of housing there; we regard that, and the importance of community, as central.
My noble friend Lord Borwick asked me what I was doing about great crested newts. When I took on this post I absolutely insisted that I had authority in relation to great crested newts: this is central to what we are doing. In all seriousness, if he has evidence of a conspiracy to abuse public office by introducing these newts to try and slow down housebuilding and passes this on to me, I will ensure that it is addressed in the appropriate way. He rightly talked about the importance of proper incentives for housebuilding and asked about the future of the new homes bonus. As the noble Lord will be aware, the Government have been consulting on the new homes bonus to see how we can sharpen the incentive to ensure that councils are genuinely incentivised to allow more homes in their area. We will provide further information on our next steps on that in due course.
The noble Lord, Lord Sharkey, asked about starter homes. I can confirm that this remains a central part of the Government’s agenda. The noble Lord will be aware that we are consulting on the necessary secondary legislation to deliver starter homes through the planning measures outlined in the Housing and Planning Act, and progress is on track through engagement with builders and other stakeholders in that issue. He also asked if 1 million homes is still a target. I can confirm that it is. The added incentives and finance that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid, recently announced give us extra tools to approach this issue. I know that it is challenging, but we are making these housing goals central to what we are seeking to do.
The noble Lord, Lord Best, also talked about 1 million homes by 2020 and how we could take up the slack. He welcomed the Build to Rent project, though he did, admittedly, say that it has not delivered as much as we need. We have interaction with other government departments here. We have to be aware of the impact of any welfare changes and ensure that we have flexibility of approach to tenures. We will do this. I thank noble Lords for what they have said about my honourable friend, the Minister, Gavin Barwell. He is indeed committed to different forms of tenure, as is the whole department and the Government. That is how we will ensure that we address the housing shortage in a pragmatic way.
My noble friend Lord Farmer asked about the action we are taking. I have already mentioned the recently announced additional £3 billion Home Building Fund and £2 billion for surplus public sector land, as well as additional action on brownfield sites. He particularly asked about the family stability indicator. The Prime Minister has been clear that tackling poverty and disadvantage and delivering real social reform will be a priority for this Government. We will set out more detailed policy in due course. Families provide a firm foundation in a child’s early years and are key to ensuring that they develop into a healthy, happy and successful adult. Furthermore, as the noble Lord rightly said, if families are together and not breaking up, that obviously means the demands on the housing sector are very different, so that is an additional bonus, as it were. I thank him very much for his contribution.
The noble Lord, Lord Beecham, asked about the timetable for regulations under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. I do not have that to hand but, if I can, I will cover that in detail for him. The noble Baroness, Lady Janke, fairly addressed concerns about issues such as the housing of offenders, which we certainly need to address, and domestic violence. I have been working very closely with Women’s Aid on supported housing and pay tribute to what it is doing under its leader, Polly Neate. As noble Lords will know, it was announced recently that supported accommodation would be protected from the 1% reduction in rents, which was welcomed. We are very conscious of the importance of that sector.
My noble friend Lady Redfern talked about her experience and what her local authority was doing. I am very grateful for her efforts and for some of the ideas she has put forward. I look forward to hearing more about how that authority is helping to stimulate housing, which would be very helpful to us in looking at this area.
My noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes, was, as always, firing on all cylinders. I appreciate very much her welcome for what we are doing. The private rented sector is vital. I mentioned what we are doing with the Mayor of London and the London Assembly to try to help in London. I thank her very much for her trailer for the Question on Wednesday of next week, which means that I will have more and more people bombarding me with these issues. Local authorities already have substantial powers of action where breaches occur, and I encourage them to address that. If breaches of leases occur, it is for landlords to enforce the terms of the leases. Again, I encourage them to do so. However, my noble friend addressed a concern and I look forward to hearing more about that next week.
The noble Lord, Lord Shipley, talked about some of the interacting factors such as family breakdown and correctly addressed the important issue of how we supply more housing. As I say, it is very easy to state that but much more difficult to do, but at least if we identify what we all want to do, we are all kicking in the same direction. The noble Lord talked about my right honourable friend the Secretary of State’s recognition of the moral duty to tackle the housing crisis. He has been very honest about this in saying that successive Governments have not done enough, including the Conservatives. We all share some blame in this and we all must together seek to address it. The noble Lord correctly accentuated the importance of having different tenures.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, for his very fair summing up of the issues—that we need more homes and a variety of tenures to be provided quicker. That probably sums up how we all feel, and we all need to work together to ensure that we do that. The Government have made this a central concern. The Prime Minister identified herself very clearly with those people who are struggling and having difficulty getting by. One thing she hates is unfairness. This issue will be central to what this Government seek to do, and it is certainly central to what the department seeks to do.
As I said, I will ensure that I write to noble Lords covering all the points that were raised, one of two of which I have no doubt missed.
House adjourned at 8.58 pm.