I beg to move,
That this House
notes that England faces a housing crisis;
further notes with concern that housing starts, including for affordable housing, are down, and that homelessness and rough sleeping have increased under this Government;
further notes that the collapse in house building and contraction in construction are a major cause of the double-dip recession;
believes that the Government needs to take urgent action to get the economy and house building going again;
and calls on the Government to introduce a tax on bankers’
bonuses to fund the building of 25,000 additional affordable homes, to bring forward infrastructure investment, including for housing, and to cut VAT on home improvements, repairs and maintenance to five per cent for one year to help homeowners and create jobs.
Let me start by welcoming the new Housing Minister, Mr Prisk, to his post. It is a really important job, and I am sure he will bring to it much-needed skill and insight, and I sincerely hope he will also bring a new sense of understanding and urgency. My experience from dealing with the hon. Gentleman is that he is a modest man, unlike his predecessor, who gave hubris a bad name.
As the hon. Gentleman is new to his post, it might be helpful if I set out why we are having this debate. Today, the country is gripped by the biggest housing crisis in a generation and the longest double-dip recession since the second world war. Since the spending review, our economy has shrunk by 0.6%. As a result of this Government’s twin failure on economic and housing policy, the reality is that Britain is one of just two G20 countries in a double-dip. The reality is also that this is a recession and a housing crisis made in Downing street—and is it any wonder, as the Chancellor has multiple jobs and yesterday’s Housing Minister multiple identities, and both authored worthless plans on how to bounce back from recession?
The facts are stark: house building is down, homelessness is up, private rents have hit record highs, and we have a mortgage market in which people struggle to get mortgages. The latest Government figures tell us that fewer than 100,000 homes were started in the 12 months to June, which is a 10% decrease on the previous 12 months and amounts to fewer than half the 230,000 new households being formed every year.