The Government’s pledge to replace homes sold under the council right to buy scheme has been a failure, with only one home being built for every four sold. Why should anyone believe that things will be different when it is extended to housing association tenants? Is it not time to suspend right to buy?
There are plenty of signs that the Labour party is detaching itself from its historic supporter base, but one of the saddest is its inability to grasp the aspiration of working families to own their own home. The concerted attack on one of the most popular policies of the past 30 years—the right to buy—is a very sad spectacle. I am perfectly willing to acknowledge that the one-for-one replacement policy has not been sufficient to provide the number of social homes the country needs, and we are reviewing that policy at the same time as taking the cap off the housing revenue account and allowing councils, which frankly were induced out of council house building by the Labour Government, to get on and build the new generation of social homes.
Our excellent Housing Minister will know that parishes and towns with neighbourhood plans in place will have 15% more houses built as a result. He may also be aware that they are quite cumbersome to put in place. Does he have plans to make them easier to deliver, and will he hear representations from my parishes of Ticehurst, Robertsbridge and Salehurst about how they can be delivered a lot faster?
I was wondering who my hon. Friend was referring to then—I thank him for that compliment. As somebody who represents a beautiful part of the country, he has long been a champion of local people ceasing to be victims of the planning system and taking control of it themselves, and he is quite right that neighbourhood plans are the way to do that. From my own experience in my constituency, I have been concerned that they take some time and effort to put in place. We are reviewing what we can do to smooth their passage, and we have some funding available to assist in that, but I would be more than happy to meet him and take representations from him and his constituents.
City of York Council has presided over a net loss of social housing, and, according to a report published today by Centre for Cities, its level of house building has been one of the worst in the country. We have a serious housing crisis. What steps will the Minister take to ensure that our Tory and Liberal Democrat-controlled council builds the housing that is so desperately needed in our city?
As I hope the hon. Lady knows, we have set aside significant resources to help councils achieve their housing aspirations. We will be helping with infrastructure and providing other assistance to help them over the line. Critical to that, however, is ensuring that they have a local plan. I am sure that the coalition that is in control of City of York Council would welcome the hon. Lady’s participation in their creation of such a plan, rather than her antagonism towards it.