Affordable Housing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:19 pm on 22nd October 2002.

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Photo of Mrs Barbara Roche Mrs Barbara Roche Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 5:19 pm, 22nd October 2002

I will certainly take my hon. Friend's remarks into consideration. I know how serious the issue is. I was near her part of the world over the weekend, and I know that it is an important issue locally.

People with reasonable expectations of participating in the open housing market simply cannot afford to do so, because house prices are rocketing. We know that young families on modest incomes cannot set up home because they cannot afford to rent. Homeless people are housed in unsatisfactory temporary accommodation. During the debate, I am sure that many hon. Members will raise the topic of the right to buy and its impact on the availability of affordable housing in London and the south-east.

Let me make it clear that we have no plans to end or to extend the right-to-buy scheme. However, we are looking at what can be done to tackle abuses, and the effects of the scheme in housing crisis areas. The previous Government acted to help people who needed affordable homes in rural areas by restricting resales of right-to-buy homes. We will act to help people in urban areas who also need affordable homes, but we believe that proposals to extend the right to buy to all housing association tenants would lead to a greater shortage of affordable homes. We, unlike the Conservatives, want to increase supply, not reduce it.