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Work of the Department

Volume 667: debated on Tuesday 5 November 2019

Boosting Home Ownership and Getting Britain Building.

Getting more much-needed homes built

Since 2010 we have delivered over 1.3 million homes.

In 2017, we published our ambitious housing White Paper, and set an ambition to increase the delivery of homes to 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s. In 2017-18 over 222,000 new homes were created, the highest number in all but one of the past 31 years.

There was a net increase of 232,800 in the number of domestic properties with a council tax band in England between March 2018 and March 2019.

We are also ensuring that people have access to high-quality, affordable homes, having delivered over 430,000 affordable homes since 2010.

In 2018, we launched a new national housing agency—Homes England—to increase the supply of new homes, bringing together money, expertise, planning and compulsory purchase powers.

We have invested in overcoming the barriers to building.

In 2017 we launched the £5 billion housing infrastructure fund, to provide infrastructure in areas where housing need is greatest. At Budget 2018 we increased the funding by another £500 million, taking it to £5.5 billion in total, which will potentially unlock up to 650,000 homes. Over £3 billion has now been allocated to housing infrastructure fund bids—25 forward funding projects and 110 marginal viability fund projects—to unlock up to 297,100 homes, with more expected to be allocated over the coming months.

In 2018 we launched the £1.3 billion land assembly fund to acquire land needing work, making it less risky for developers to invest in. We also launched the £630 million small sites fund to help public landowners or local authorities speed up getting the right infrastructure in place to support stalled small sites.

In total, the Government have provided financial support for housing of at least £44 billion since the start of this spending review period to 2022-23. This includes £15 billion allocated at Autumn Budget 2017.

We have released land from the public estate for 109,000 homes through the 2011 to 2015 public land for housing programme, exceeding its 100,000 target. We have launched a successor programme, which aims to identify and release land for 160,000 new homes.

Boosting home ownership

In total, we have helped over 566,000 households into home ownership since 2010 through Government-backed schemes including help to buy and right to buy. The number of first-time buyers is at an 11-year annual high and has increased by 84% between 2010 and 2018.

Since its introduction in 2013, the help to buy scheme has helped over 221,000 households to get on the property ladder. In August 2019 we closed a loophole in the scheme, giving people the freedom to reduce their monthly mortgage repayments. This has opened up the help to buy re-mortgage market for more lenders, giving customers more choice and potentially paving the way to more competitive deals.

At the Autumn Budget 2017, we introduced stamp duty land tax relief for first-time buyers, which will help over 95% of first-time buyers who pay the tax, benefiting a total of 401,900 households so far and it is expected to benefit over 1 million households in the first five years. To date, this has saved first-time buyers an estimated £955 million.

We have launched two pilots of voluntary right to buy—one in 2016 and one in 2018—giving thousands of housing association tenants the opportunity to buy their homes.

In 2019, we announced plans for a new national model for shared ownership, which will help thousands of lower earners to step on to the housing ladder.

Improving people’s experience of the housing market

In 2010 we scrapped home information packs, removing unnecessary regulation and making the process of selling homes easier and less costly.

In August 2018 we published the social housing Green Paper, which set our ambitions for a new, fairer deal for social housing residents, including making it easier for residents to progress into home ownership. The Green Paper was informed by conversations with over 1,000 social housing residents and 7,000 online submissions.

Since 2012, the social housing waiting list has dropped by 40%. The Localism Act 2011 has given local authorities the power to set their own qualification criteria for social housing and to set policies which are appropriate to their local area.

We are helping renters by:

Passing legislation banning unfair letting fees and capping tenancy deposits, which will bring an end to costly upfront payments and renewal fees. The Tenant Fees Act came into force on 1 June 2019 and is set to save tenants £240 million in the first year alone.

Empowering tenants to tackle bad landlords through the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

Ending the practice of evicting tenants with no clearly specified reason, by committing in April 2019 to repeal s.21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Cracking down on rogue landlords. Last year alone we introduced banning orders and a database of rogue landlords and agents, and we extended mandatory licensing to protect tenants from overcrowding and poor housing conditions in houses in multiple occupation.

We are helping leaseholders by:

Announcing a range of measures to cut out abusive practices within the leasehold market, including prohibiting the development of new build leasehold houses other than in exceptional circumstances and restricting ground rents in newly established leases of houses and flats to a peppercorn, zero financial value.

Reforming the planning system to ensure that the right homes are built in the right places

In 2012 we published the national planning policy framework, replacing over 1000 pages of individual policy statements. In 2018, we revised the national planning policy framework, implementing around 80 planning reforms whilst making it more streamlined and easier to use.

As of the end of September 2019, 301 of 338 local planning authorities (89%) have an adopted local plan. 152 of these local plans are up to date (45%). This compares to 58 (17%) local planning authorities that had an adopted local plan in May 2010.

We are now preparing an accelerated planning White Paper to speed up the planning system, including the potential for more fees to be refunded if councils take too long to decide on specific planning applications.

We have given communities more power to plan for their areas, by introducing neighbourhood planning in 2011. Since 2012 over 2,600 communities have started producing a neighbourhood plan.

We have introduced permitted development rights for change of use to residential; over 46,000 homes have been delivered in the three years to March 2018 through these.

In May 2019 we announced changes to permitted development rights, allowing thousands of homeowners to extend their properties quickly and easily without the need for a full planning application.

We have continued to protect the green belt and it is now larger than in 1997, when records began, if we disregard land re-classified as national park.

We have reformed the system of developer contributions, to support local authorities to better collect and spend contributions. Local authorities received £6 billion in developer contributions which go toward affordable housing and local infrastructure in 2016-17, a £2 billion increase in real terms than in 2011-12.

Improving Quality and Design of Housing

We recently launched our national design guide. The first-ever Government-backed national model design code will be published in the new year and will set out a clear model for promoting a better design and style of homes across the country, shaped by what local people want.

We launched the future homes standard consultation in October 2019, to ensure that every new home that’s built in this country from 2025 will have low or zero-carbon emissions and the highest levels of energy efficiency.

Diversifying the housing market

We are backing councils to build more homes by removing the housing revenue account borrowing cap in 2018, enabling them deliver around 10,000 homes a year by 2021-22.

We established the £4.5 billion home building fund in 2016 to get more homes built. This will provide £2.5 billion funding specifically for SMEs, custom builders and innovators, giving them the funding they need to compete in the market. The fund also provides £2 billion in long-term infrastructure funding to unlock between 160,000 and 200,000 homes by 2020-21, with an emphasis on developments on brownfield land.

We have supported the build to rent sector to deliver over 30,000 homes across the UK since 2012, with over 110,000 further such homes in the pipeline. The build to rent fund provided over £630 million of development finance for the supply of 6,000 new privately rented homes. The fund closed to new applications in 2015. The £3.5 billion private rented sector guarantee scheme finances new build rented properties, and as of October 2019, £1.75 billion in total has been approved for 9,050 homes.

In autumn 2017 we announced a further £8 billion in guarantees to support housebuilding, including purpose-built rented homes and SMEs; £4 billion has been allocated so far:

In April 2019, we launched the £1 billion ENABLE build programme to support SME housebuilders.

At spring Statement 2019, we announced £3 billion of guarantees to support affordable housing delivery. The invitation to tender to run the scheme opened in November 2019.

Levelling up across the country

We continue to decentralise power away from Whitehall and back into the hands of local councils, communities and individuals to act on local priorities. In the 2019 Queen’s Speech, we committed to publishing a devolution White Paper to unleash regional potential in England and enable decisions that affect local people to be made at a local level.

Eight metro mayors have been elected since 2017, most recently in North of Tyne in May 2019. Through a major programme of secondary legislation, we devolved significant new powers, including over transport, housing, skills and planning to the mayors and combined authorities. Mayors are growing local economies by working with local councils and businesses to create jobs, boost skills, build homes and improve connections.

We replaced top-down regional development agencies in 2012, following the establishment of local enterprise partnerships in 2011.

In 2014, we established the £12 billion local growth fund and have since funded three rounds of growth deals for local enterprise partnerships to support local areas, creating jobs, supporting businesses and encouraging growth.

We have agreed 26 bespoke city deals through two waves in 2012 and 2013. These deals devolved powers and opened up new and innovative ways of doing things to unlock growth and deliver jobs.

We have supported the creation of three mayoral development corporations at Old Oak, Stockport and Teesside, to drive regeneration and growth.

In March 2019, the Department announced two new housing communities in London, Old Oak Common and Brent Cross Cricklewood. The investment package totals £570 million and will create 20,000 new homes and new jobs opportunities in the area, whilst benefiting from new transport infrastructure.

Supporting our towns, high streets and coastal communities

In July 2019 the Prime Minister announced an expanded £3.6 billion towns fund. The Government have since announced an initial 100 places that Government have invited to enter into a town deal negotiation, and 100 places that are benefiting from the future high streets fund.

The Town Deal funding will enable communities to develop ambitious transformative plans, improving their economic growth prospects, transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture. In October 2019, Government launched the #MyTown campaign to give people a say in how a new generation of town deals should transform the place they call home.

The high streets funding will empower local leaders to help transform their high streets and town centres as consumer habits change. In August 2019, we announced its expansion, meaning that an additional 50 towns will now benefit from £1 billion of available funding. Part of the fund will be used to support the regeneration of heritage high streets. We have also funded successful initiatives such as “love your local market” and the “great British high street awards”, and established the high streets task force to give high streets and town centres expert advice to adapt and thrive.

In November 2018 we launched the open doors pilot scheme, which has matched landlords struggling to find tenants for their empty high street properties in five locations around England with community groups looking for space.

We are supporting our coastal communities through our coastal communities fund which supports projects in the UK delivering sustainable growth and jobs. In September 2019 we announced a further five towns which will benefit from this funding. Since 2012, we have awarded grants to 369 projects across the UK, totalling over £229 million.

Unleashing regional potential

Northern powerhouse

In 2016 we published the northern powerhouse strategy. Since then we have:

Invested £3.4 billion of local growth funding in the region to support locally determined projects across the north.

Seen record levels of investment in transport—over £13 billion between 2015-16 to 202-/21—and the creation of the first statutory, regional transport body outside of London, transport for the north.

Created the northern powerhouse investment fund, worth £400 million, to support SMEs to grow and scale up.

Boosted the international profile of the northern powerhouse through a commitment of £15million to support trade missions and £7 million for the northern powerhouse taskforce.

Improved education in the north, with £70 million for the northern powerhouse schools strategy.

Seen almost 50% of the north being covered by devolution, with metro mayors in place across the north.

In the autumn Budget 2018, the Government extended the transforming cities fund by another year, 2022-23, providing an extra £240 million available for six metro mayors for locally determined projects to improve transport connections. This builds on the initial transforming cities fund of £436 million in the northern powerhouse regions.

Midlands engine

In 2017 we published the first midlands engine strategy which included an additional £392 million for midlands local enterprise partnerships to support local growth projects, bringing the total growth deal funding for the midlands to nearly £1.9 billion.

We have supported enhanced connectivity in the region with £25 million of funding for midlands connect to publish its first strategy in March 2017. Further transport support has included, in March 2019, the transforming cities fund with Derby and Nottingham receiving £7.2 million, Leicestershire receiving £7.8 million and Stoke on Trent receiving £5.6 million.

We are investing over £250 million through the midlands engine investment fund to support small businesses to start and grow.

Skills development is being supported in the region through a £20 million midlands engine skills challenge, delivering targeted support to the unemployed through work coaches, providing English language training to help more people access employment and empowering employers to help employees with mental health issues.

Three institutes of technology have been established at Aston University, Dudley College of Technology and the University of Lincoln.

The west midlands was selected to become the home to the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed in September 2018. The £50 million trial of new high-speed connectivity will pave the way for rollout across the UK. This builds on the already active 5G testbed in Worcestershire, putting the midlands at the forefront of 5G developments.

Birmingham was selected to host the prestigious 2022 Commonwealth Games and in Budget 2018, £165 million was announced to support the games athletes village and unlock 5,000 homes.

Coventry was announced as UK city of culture 2021 and has been provided with £8.5 million for its plans to showcase the city.

In May 2017, the people of the west midlands combined authority (WMCA) elected their first mayor, Andy Street. Government have agreed a second devolution deal with the WMCA which included £6 million for a housing delivery taskforce, £5 million for a construction skills training scheme and £250 million from the transforming cities fund to be spent on local intra-city transport priorities.

In October 2019, following the £2 million already granted to the midlands to develop the Toton growth zone near Nottingham, we announced intent to establish a new locally led development corporation with the aims of delivering new houses, jobs and economic growth.

Western gateway

In November, alongside the Secretary of State for Wales, we announced the western gateway: a strategic partnership promoting and maximising economic growth across south Wales and the west of England to create jobs, boost prosperity and support the world-renowned universities and businesses of the region.

To represent a strong business voice and lead the project to success, Katherine Bennett, senior vice president of Airbus, is the first acting chair of the western gateway.

MHCLG is providing £400,000 start-up funding to kick-start the partnership.

Helping Vulnerable People

In 2018 we published our rough sleeping strategy, setting out our vision for halving rough sleeping by 2022 and ending it altogether.

We have allocated more than £1.2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping over the spending review period to April 2020. This includes a flexible homelessness support grant of £617 million for homelessness services, £28 million of funding to pilot a housing first approach in three major regions of England and the rough sleeping initiative (RSI). The RSI began with a £30 million fund for 2018-2019 targeted at 83 local authorities with the highest levels of rough sleeping. The Government announced a further £46 million fund for the RSI for 2019/20. We expect this to provide 750 staff and 2,600 bed spaces this year.

These efforts are having an impact on rough sleeping levels: the 2018 annual rough sleeping statistics showed a decrease for the first time this decade, and a 19% reduction in those areas receiving additional funding and support under the rough sleeping initiative. And our recent impact evaluation of the rough sleeping initiative showed that the true impact was even greater with a 32% reduction in rough sleeping in these areas, compared to what it would have been had the initiative not been in place.

At the spending round in 2019 we announced £422 million offunding to help reduce homelessness and rough sleeping in 2020-21, which is an additional £54 million of funding compared with the previous year.

The Homelessness Reduction Act came into force in 2018, which will transform the culture of homelessness service delivery. For the first time, it placed new duties on local housing authorities to take reasonable steps to try to prevent and relieve a person’s homelessness.

Since 2011 we have delivered 34,000 units of supported housing for disabled, vulnerable and older people.

Supporting Local Government to deliver

high quality services with sustainable finances

Making public services better and more efficient

Between 2011 and 2016, we have provided almost £5 billion of council tax freeze grant funding to local authorities that froze their council tax level to help keep bills low.

We have worked with councils on agreeing locally led proposals to establish new unitary councils and to merge district councils, saving millions annually. In 2018-19 we supported two new unitary councils in Dorset and three merged district councils in East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Somerset West Taunton.

In 2011, we launched the troubled families programme to support local areas over the long term to transform the way services worked with families with multiple high-cost and complex problems. In 2015 we launched the second troubled families programme. As of March 2019, it has funded areas to work with nearly 380,000 eligible families, with 172,000 families achieving significant and sustained progress against the problems identified when entering the programme.

In 2013 we introduced new legislation to allow councils across England to charge double the rate of council tax on homes left empty for two years or more, and therefore raising funds which can be used to keep the overall rate of council tax down.

Council tax in England is 6% lower in real terms than it was in 2010. This follows a doubling of council tax over from 1997 to 2010.

We have also taken steps to ensure local authorities and private operators provide adequate parking spaces and are fair to their customers. These include:

Amending the national planning policy framework and planning guidance to reduce restrictions on parking and help local authorities and householders rent out empty spaces in 2011;

Reducing over-zealous parking enforcement through the Deregulation Act 2015, and giving local residents, community groups, and businesses the ability to challenge parking policies in the same year;

Tackling rogue private parking operators through supporting Sir Greg Knight’s Private Members’ Bill, helping it to secure Royal Assent in March 2019; and

Proposing a new code of practice, to be developed by the British standards institution, to provide drivers with a 10-minute grace period after their tickets expire and crack down on intimidating and aggressive debt collection practices.

Improving local government sustainability

The 2019 spending round provides access to the largest year-on-year increase in local authority spending power since 2010. We expect core spending power to rise by £2.9 billion, from £46.2 billion to £49.1 billion in 2020-21. This includes an additional £1.5 billion to help local authorities to meet rising demand for adult social care. Average spending power per dwelling for the 10% most deprived authorities is around 16% more than for the least deprived 10% in 2019-20.

The total net revenue service expenditure by all local authorities in England is budgeted to be £96.2 billion in 2019-20. This is 3.8% higher than the £92.6 billion budgeted for 2018-19.

We have helped to drive the integration of health and social care services following the establishment of the better care fund, from a total of £5.3 billion in 2015-16 to a total of £7.8 billion in 2018-19.

In 2013 we introduced the business rates retention system, giving local authorities more control over money they raise locally. We have conducted a series of pilots for full business rate retention.

Since Budget 2016 the Government have introduced a range of business rates measures in England worth more than £13 billion over the next five years.

Uniting the Country

Building communities and great places

We have empowered communities by establishing a range of community rights in the Localism Act 2011, including the community right to bid to help protect local assets for community use and the community right to challenge to give communities a greater role in shaping and running local services.

We are ensuring that communities are heard through our £3.2 million communities fund which has supported 54 local authorities to shape and improve service delivery in partnership with community groups. As well as investing a £1.85 million endowment, from March 2016 to March 2019, to allow communities to buy their local pub.

In September 2019 the community infrastructure levy regulations came into force, helping local people see how every pound of property developers’ cash levied on new buildings is spent.

In July 2019 we published a communities framework to set out our renewed vision for building stronger communities and championing communities in every aspect of society.

Green spaces and parks

In 2018-19 we invested £15 million to improve parks through the local authority parks improvement fund, the future parks accelerator and pocket parks plus. In October 2019 we launched a further £1.35 million of funding to extend the pocket parks programme. Pocket parks is designed to create new pocket parks or renovate existing parks that have fallen into disrepair where it can be shown that physical changes could have a significant positive impact on the local community and address a specific local need. Through the 2018 programme, we funded 198 new and renovated parks across England.


We are continuing to invest in isolated communities and improve English language skills by committing to spend over £50 million in 2018-19 and 201-20 to support priorities set out in the integrated communities Green Paper and subsequent action plan. At the spending round 2019, we announced an additional £10 million of funding to continue the integration areas programme with a major focus on English language provision, building on the success of the first five integration areas announced in 2018.

We are supporting English local authorities to tackle the impacts of recent migration through our £102 million controlling migration fund. Funded activity includes supporting newcomers to learn English and understand local social and cultural expectations, caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and tackling rogue landlords.

Tackling hatred in all forms

We are committed to tackling all forms of hate crime as demonstrated through the hate crime action plan, this was refreshed in 2018. As part of the refresh, we have committed additional funding to continue to protect places of worship. We have committed over £1.5 million for projects to tackle racially and religiously motivated hatred.

We have committed to launching an anti-Muslim hatred working group and an antisemitism working group. Most recently, we have appointed an antisemitism advisor—Lord John Mann—and appointed the first advisor to take forward the Government’s commitment to work on a definition of Islamophobia.

In September 2019, the communities secretary committed £100,000 funding to stem the spread of anti-Semitic material online. The Secretary of State also wrote to all councils and universities encouraging them to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism as a matter of urgency.

We are honouring and remembering Holocaust victims by committing up to £75 million for a striking new national memorial and a state-of-the-art learning centre next to Parliament, to be matched by at least £25 million from private donations. Subject to planning permission, construction will begin in 2020.

Achievements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;

The UK government has committed up to £1.6 billion for six city deals across Scotland and Wales and has committed to extending city deals to Northern Ireland. A funding commitment that has been matched by £1.4 billion from devolved Governments and a further £1.6 billion from other partners including local authorities, universities and the private sector.