Asset Inequality

Oral Answers to Questions — Deputy Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 9th February 2005.

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Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East 11:30 am, 9th February 2005

What effect he expects the five-year plan will have on the level of asset inequality.

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Our five-year plans will help to reduce asset inequality by offering more choice and fairness in housing, including new proposals to allow thousands of tenants to buy a share in their home, by recycling public assets, by tackling disadvantage and by promoting more prosperous regions.

Photo of Brian Iddon Brian Iddon Labour, Bolton South East

Has my hon. Friend seen the Shelter report "Know your place" on housing wealth and inequality? Is he as concerned as I am that, if action is not taken urgently, in 30 years' time the 10 per cent. of children in Britain's wealthiest areas will be in families that own more than 100 times the housing wealth of the 10 per cent. of children born in the poorest areas of the UK?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right to highlight those inequalities in assets, which is why the five-year plan published by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is called "Sustainable Communities: Homes for All". It contains new measures to help first-time buyers on to the housing ladder and to extend home buying so that council tenants and tenants of social landlords—up to 300,000 people—have an equity share in their own home. Those are radical proposals to redistribute the assets of this country to help the poorest the most, unlike the policies of the Conservatives, whose £1 billion cut in housing would deprive those poor communities of the housing that they desperately need.

Photo of Geoffrey Robinson Geoffrey Robinson Labour, Coventry North West

Is the Minister aware that the Shelter report shows that home ownership—for those who have been able to do it—is a major factor in the growing inequality in this country? Is he also aware that his policies for social buy and affordable housing are welcome in Coventry, where I can assure him and his policies of a warm welcome and a total rejection of the Conservatives' proposed cuts of £1 billion?

Photo of Phil Hope Phil Hope Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is right. It is important that 100 per cent. of the proceeds of the sale of the new assets is reinvested in housing. Home buy will help social landlords to deliver new social homes for homeless households and others in priority need of housing. I am delighted that things are going so well in Coventry. I just hope that its people remember that when it comes to making a choice in a few months' time.