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As my right hon. Friend will be aware, the Government asked the home ownership taskforce to consider ways of helping social tenants into home ownership. The taskforce's recommendations include introducing a form of equity loans or bonds as an alternative to the right to buy and the right to acquire and allowing all social tenants to buy their rented home on a shared ownership basis. The Government are considering the taskforce's report and will respond shortly.
I welcome my right hon. Friend's reply. Does he share my concern at the division that is opening up, which is particularly marked in the south-east of England, between families who now own considerable assets because of the rise in the price of their homes and those in social rented housing who do not have any share in the increased value of their homes? May I urge my right hon. Friend to complete his consideration of the proposals as swiftly as possible in order to introduce practical legislation to address the issue?
I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend. As 70 per cent. of our population enjoy home ownership, it is perfectly reasonable to aspire to that. We recognise, however, that total home ownership is likely to be out of the reach of many social tenants. That is why we are examining with a due sense of urgency several options that will enable tenants and public landlords to share in property values, thereby giving people a stake in their own homes and contributing to the creation of mixed-tenure sustainable communities.
The Government's definition of affordable housing is housing that becomes available on a large scale to those who are in need of it. That is why, in the period since 1997, we have assisted in the provision of nearly 250,000 affordable homes.
I welcome my right hon. Friend's comments on shared ownership, because it is important for people to have a stake in the ownership of their homes. Will he ensure that English Partnerships, which, along with Lancashire city council, has put a great deal of money into Morecambe, seriously considers the possibility of shared ownership schemes that will help a large number of my constituents get on to the housing ladder?