Affordable Housing

Office of the Deputy Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 16th November 2005.

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Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton 11:30 am, 16th November 2005

What progress is being made towards his targets for the construction of new (a) shared ownership and (b) affordable rented homes.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (London)

Our policy "Sustainable Communities: Homes for All" sets out the Government's plans to deliver more affordable housing over the next five years. Measures include delivery of 75,000 social rented homes by 2008 and assisting more than 80,000 first-time buyers and key workers to achieve home ownership by 2010. Those targets include both new build and acquisition; there are no separate targets for the construction of new shared ownership or affordable rented homes.

Photo of Andrew Love Andrew Love Labour, Edmonton

I congratulate the Government on their action on shared ownership. My concern is about affordable rented accommodation, especially in the capital. That is partly to do with construction cost inflation and the need for larger homes, but mainly it relates to the needs of the large number of people who are homeless or living in overcrowded accommodation. What action is my hon. Friend taking to deliver more resources for social rented homes in the capital?

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (London)

I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government's success so far demonstrates that we will be successful with the capital as well. On homelessness targets, for example, we have ended the scandal of families in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. We have taken two thirds of rough sleepers off the streets and between now and 2010 we will deal with the 2 million homes that were below the decency threshold, which were left to us in 1997. We have spent £5 billion over the past three years on socially affordable homes. We intend to spend £3.9 billion over the next three years. The share of London and the south-east in that capital project is considerable.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

Is the Minister aware that many people in Shipley are fed up to the back teeth with the Government setting more and more targets in planning matters? Will he therefore agree to give more powers back to local authorities so that they can set their own targets and not have Government-inspired targets forced upon them?

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (London)

The hon. Gentleman says that he and his constituents are fed up with the setting of targets. The Government's programme in dealing with the 2 million homes that were below the decency threshold is clearly on track. I have quoted statistics relating to our dealing with the scandals of families in bed-and-breakfast accommodation and homelessness, and we are clearly on track. We issued new planning policy guidance earlier this year, which will help local authorities. We have consulted on one of the Kate Barker recommendations. The new planning policy statement will be responded to before the end of the year. That will help not only Shipley but the whole of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Labour, Islington North

Surely the Minister is well aware of the housing crisis that exists in London with the lack of rented accommodation through councils and housing associations. What is he prepared to do to enforce further building by local authorities and housing associations? Is he prepared to call in all major planning applications in London that do not meet the Mayor's target of 50 per cent. of all new housing being for people who are in desperate housing need rather than for those who can afford to buy luxury accommodation?

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (London)

As my hon. Friend is aware, we are reviewing the powers and responsibilities of the Mayor. We shall be issuing a consultation document shortly, which will deal with housing matters as well as planning and other issues. We have been working closely both with the Mayor and London local authorities. I have mentioned the fact that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has allocated money for housing, and considerable elements of it are going towards London; it will get its fair share. The arrangements between ourselves, the Mayor and London local authorities can only demonstrate that this approach will be successful for the capital.

Photo of Sarah Teather Sarah Teather Shadow Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)

A million and a half families are waiting for council housing, often living in appalling conditions while they wait. When will the Government give councils the financial freedom that they need to invest in building their own affordable rented housing?

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Minister (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) (London)

We have doubled the investment in socially affordable homes since 1997, as I have mentioned. We are working as hard as we can. In the first instance, we have prioritised the 2 million homes below the decency threshold. We have introduced a step change in housing new build. We are working with the Housing Corporation to ensure that those in need of homes get them as soon as possible.

We will be helping 100,000 people to get their homes by 2010, including those on the housing waiting list and those who come within the key workers strategy. We are clearly demonstrating that we are working hard to deal with the housing backlog. However, to deal with decades of no new build will take us time. We are on target for 1.1 million homes by 2016 in London and the south-east.