Affordable Housing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:48 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Don Foster Don Foster Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 4:48 pm, 22nd October 2002

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. The Government seem to be myopic about the needs of the south-west in many respects. We are losing out in the area that the hon. Gentleman has described and it seems that we will continue to lose out in terms of local government funding and the provision of improved public transport facilities. He gives but one example of the Government's myopia in respect of the south-west.

In the country as a whole, housing is in a significant mess. More than 80,000 statutory homeless households live in temporary accommodation—the highest figure ever—and 100,000 children become homeless every year. More than 500,000 households are overcrowded. More than 3 million people live in poor housing.

It is no wonder, therefore, that Jon Rouse, the chief executive of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, should have told the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Select Committee that we have Xa housing crisis" on our hands. He is absolutely right.

Mr. Love referred to the need for specific figures for affordable housing. He is right. Cambridge university's housing and planning research centre estimates that, to meet current and future needs, between 83,000 and 99,000 new affordable homes will be needed every year for the next decade, and well beyond.

This year, the lowest number of new houses has been completed since 1924. There are far too few affordable homes—more than 80,000 are needed each year, but fewer than 20,000 will be added to the stock this year. Although some 10,000 additional properties have been acquired, converted or rented for affordable housing, even that means that there will be only 30,000 extra homes, compared with the need for well in excess of 80,000.