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Social Rented Housing

Volume 744: debated on Monday 22 January 2024

Our £11.5 billion affordable homes programme will deliver thousands of affordable homes for rent and to buy right across the country. The levelling-up White Paper also committed us to increasing the supply of social rented homes, and a large number of the new homes delivered through our affordable homes programme will be for social rent.

Local authorities have been stripped of resources for the past 14 years, and even Conservative Members agree with that. Does the Secretary of State recognise that local authorities and housing associations need certainty and stability over time, so that they have the confidence and security to invest in affordable social and council housing stock, rather than the Conservatives’ last-minute, unplanned changes that wreak chaos and instability?

I certainly agree that housing associations do fantastic work in providing homes for social rent as well as shared ownership homes, and we work in partnership with them. We are aware of the many pressures they are under. The hon. Lady says that they need certainty and stability, but that is why it would be so damaging if there were a Labour Government with their £28 billion black hole, which would mean either more borrowing or tax increases, and higher interest rates for those aspiring to get on the housing ladder. That is why we should stick with the plan rather than going back to square one.

In my constituency of Suffolk Coastal, Flagship is selling houses to second-home owners. That is a scandal. It tries to suggest that it is because it cannot repair them economically, but it is not offering them, first of all, to the local council. There are restrictions and covenants that could be put in place if these were council houses, but they are not; they are housing association homes. I would love to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss this matter further to make sure that the housing that was originally given to the housing associations stays for local people.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for raising that issue. She represents one of the most beautiful constituencies in the United Kingdom and does so with great skill. It is because it is such a beautiful constituency that demand for housing is so high. The proportion of second homes in her constituency does create challenges for local people, which I would be more than happy to discuss with her at her convenience.

Rather than levying fines of £2,500 on the most vulnerable people sleeping rough, as is proposed in the Criminal Justice Bill, will the Minister commit to building a new generation of social housing? The current levels are pitiful and are an embarrassment, are they not, Secretary of State?

No, absolutely not. Our record on building social homes is significantly better than that of the last Labour Government. It is under our Administration that local authorities have been given the chance to take 100% of the receipts from right to buy and to reinvest them in social housing. It is this Government, spending £11.5 billion through the affordable homes programme, who are capable of delivering social homes. As we are talking of billions of pounds, the £28 billion black hole in the shadow Minister’s budget would devastate our housing market.