Affordable Housing (North Yorkshire)

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 27th March 2007.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

There have been significant increases in the number of home owners in North Yorkshire over the past 10 years. However, house prices have gone up, putting pressure on first-time buyers, and the number of homes being built in Yorkshire still falls short of the number of new households. That is why we are increasing investment in affordable housing in Yorkshire—but we need to build more homes of all kinds.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Children, Young People and Families)

Does the Minister share my concern that not only is the average cost of housing in North Yorkshire, and Yorkshire and the Humber as a whole, higher than the average price in the rest of England, but average earnings are lower, so there is a double effect? In addition, the impact of council tax increases has been stark, and in 2005 some 10,500 affordable homes were lost through the right-to-buy scheme. What exactly are her Government doing to promote affordable housing in North Yorkshire?

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

The hon. Lady will be aware that we put in place a series of safeguards on the right to buy—a policy that, as she knows, her party introduced. We are doubling investment in affordable housing in Yorkshire, but she, and councils across Yorkshire, need to realise that we need to build more homes. Local councils can themselves do more, for example through section 106 agreements, which still deliver only a small proportion of the affordable homes across North Yorkshire.

Photo of Hugh Bayley Hugh Bayley NATO Parliamentary Assembly UK Delegation

House prices in York have increased faster than house prices across the country as a whole. They used to be lower than the average price nationally but now they are considerably higher, and young working couples are being priced out of their own city. York has built 600 homes under section 106 agreements, and could build more if it got more social housing subsidy from the Government. Will more Government subsidy be coming to York?

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. We need more affordable housing across Yorkshire. That is why we have already doubled investment in affordable housing in Yorkshire, as I said. We want to support the provision of more affordable homes through the spending review, but we think that local authorities need to do their bit. Certainly, across the northern regions fewer resources come from section 106 than in other areas, and we believe that by working alongside other programmes, we can do more to get those additional affordable homes.

Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

The Government are, crucially, responsible for key elements of housing supply in North Yorkshire and the wider Yorkshire and the Humber region. One respect in which Ministers are directly responsible for the area is through the millennium community scheme. Ten years ago, in 1997, the Government announced that they were creating seven new millennium villages. One of them, Allerton Bywater, is in Yorkshire. The scheme has so far cost a massive £131,565,732, but in Allerton only 44 houses have been built. Can Ministers explain why the scheme has been such an expensive failure? Where has all the money gone?

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Minister of State (Department of Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

I invite the hon. Gentleman to come to Allerton Bywater and see the huge progress that has been made in turning round a derelict pit site that needed considerable investment and remediation. That coalfield community had been abandoned by the Conservative Party for many years, but it is now receiving new investment in new facilities. There are major new programmes, in which homes are being built and new facilities provided for the local community, including community centres and new parks and spaces. He should come and see the impact of new investment, not only in Greenwich millennium village, but in Allerton Bywater millennium village and a series of villages across the country. He knows from reading the answers to his own parliamentary questions that he is utterly misrepresenting the figures. He should recognise the important benefits that are being created for communities, which he would be dishonest to ignore.