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Social Housing

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st October 2011.

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Photo of Aidan Burley Aidan Burley Conservative, Cannock Chase 2:30 pm, 31st October 2011

What estimate he has made of the number of social housing units occupied by people earning over £100,000 per annum.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister for Housing

We estimate that there are about 6,000 households in social housing where the person named on the tenancy agreement and their partner have a combined income over £100,000 a year—something we intend to tackle through the pay to stay scheme, whereby those on six-figure incomes who wish to stay in their properties can pay to stay there.

Photo of Aidan Burley Aidan Burley Conservative, Cannock Chase

The 2,345 people currently on the housing waiting list in Cannock Chase will be gobsmacked to learn that an estimated 6,000 people still living in council houses are paying a subsidised rent despite earning more than £100,000 a year—four times the average salary of my constituents. With so many people in need of housing languishing on waiting lists, what assurances can the Minister give me and my constituents that those people who earn more than him will be forced to pay their way like the rest of us?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister for Housing

My hon. Friend points out a real problem with the housing system—that it is possible to earn a six-figure salary, sit on the Labour Benches and still occupy a home built for some of the most vulnerable people in society, who deserve those homes. We will allow the pay to stay scheme to go ahead, meaning that people can stay in their homes and pay the market rent so that we can use all the money to build more affordable homes for people who really need them.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Shadow Minister (Education)

If the Government are so keen on restricting social housing to those on low incomes, how does the Minister explain the affordable rent regime? Is it not the case that in local authorities such as my own, even at 65% of market rents, the income required—without benefit—to pay for an affordable family-sized house is £77,000 a year?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister for Housing

We are keen to protect people on low incomes, not on high ones, as the hon. Lady suggested. The point about the housing benefit changes is that many of her constituents, along with mine and everyone else’s, will be asking how it can be fair for people in receipt of housing benefit to live in homes and streets that people on ordinary salaries cannot possibly afford to live in. That is the system that we are going to fix; when the Opposition were in government, they used to support that policy.

Photo of John Leech John Leech Liberal Democrat, Manchester, Withington

Will the Minister ensure that the revenue raised by pay to stay is ring-fenced for social housing?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister for Housing

I can provide a little more information. We expect some tens of millions of pounds to be raised by pay to stay. Those with six-figure incomes will pay a market rent to stay in their homes, and we will use every single penny of the money to build the more affordable housing that the most vulnerable people in society deserve and need.

Photo of Julie Elliott Julie Elliott Labour, Sunderland Central

Does the £100,000 to which the question refers constitute household or individual income?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister for Housing

It constitutes the income of a household consisting of two partners.