The analysis in the Barker review showed that we should aim to deliver about 200,000 new homes a year to prevent future problems with affordability. The level of house building has increased from around 130,000 to 180,000, but we need to go further.
My constituents want to know that they have a Government who are on their side, helping people who are working hard on limited incomes to get on in life. What more can the Government do to help people earning perhaps £10,000 or £12,000 a year who are keen to start a family, but want to wait until they have got on the housing ladder and can buy or rent a home of their own?
We will be helping 160,000 families into shared ownership programmes by 2010, but, frankly, we also have to get serious about building more homes. My hon. Friend will know that there is continued opposition, including from the Opposition Benches, to building more houses. Early-day motion 519 of the last Session stated that the Government's housing proposals would
"lead to unacceptable overdevelopment in Surrey and other parts of the South East".
It was signed by Michael Gove and, frankly, that shows an irresponsible attitude towards the first-time buyers of the future.
Will the Minister follow up her comment about irresponsible decisions by estimating how many of those new homes will be built on natural floodplains?
The hon. Gentleman will know that housing developments around natural floodplains have been in place over our history. Many developments in the city of York and elsewhere are in natural floodplains, but he will also know that we have tightened the planning guidance in that area. In particular, we set out new planning policy guidance before Christmas in order to prevent inappropriate development in flood areas and ensure that homes are sustainable for the future.
Do we not need to target more new housing specifically at young people, particularly those who are homeless, or about to be homeless? Will the Government develop a strategy to promote the building of foyer projects in each town throughout the country?
My hon. Friend is right to highlight the good work that foyer projects do. We have set a target to end the use of bed and breakfast for young homeless people, as we think it inappropriate. Foyer schemes are one way of doing things, but there may be other ways of providing supported housing for young people in communities. My hon. Friend is right to say that it should be a priority. We have made great progress helping families out of homelessness and now we want to do more for young people.
Thirty-three years ago, I was vice-chair of housing in Luton when we had a housing waiting list of 4,000 families. We simply built and bought thousands of homes and housed all on that waiting list. Our housing waiting list is even bigger now and the majority of people on it cannot contemplate home ownership, as it is simply beyond them. I suggest that my hon. Friend should look again at what we used to do in the '70s and perhaps replicate it now.
My hon. Friend will know that the housing market has changed substantially since the 1970s, and that we now have far more home owners than we did then. He will also know that it is right to increase market housing, along with more shared ownership and social housing. I think that councils need to play a stronger role in that process as part of the investment in new housing for the next few years.