Elevate has made a good start in dealing with the long-term problems of low housing demand in my hon. Friend's constituency and across east Lancashire. We have allocated £68 million to Elevate for the period up to March 2006 and I expect the levels of both public and private investment to increase in future years. This investment is in addition to the extra funding we are already making available to east Lancashire through our decent homes and neighbourhood renewal programmes.
That is good news, but surely one of the great ironies is that house prices drift up as speculators move in and buy up properties, hoping to make a killing. I know that we live in a nasty, capitalist world, but is there anything we can do about that?
My hon. Friend makes a serious point, bearing it in mind that houses could be bought in his area, and, indeed, in Oldham when I visited it recently, for £1,500. That is a collapse of the housing market and many houses are empty. If we are to make those communities decent and sustainable, some houses will have to be knocked down because they are unfit to live in and other areas will have to be improved, with green space provided. We are trying to create sustainable communities in which people are proud to live. One of the consequential effects of that is that house prices will rise from under £1,500.