House Building

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 18th March 2013.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health) 2:30 pm, 18th March 2013

What recent assessment he has made of the results of Government schemes to increase house building.

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister for Housing

The Government monitor the rate of house building very closely. For example, we have completed 58,000 affordable homes in 2011-12. We assess that to be one third higher than the average delivery of affordable homes in the 10 years before the last general election.

Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health)

But the Prime Minister over-hyped his NewBuy guarantee by saying that it would help around 100,000 families to access affordable mortgages—so far, only 1,500 households have benefited from that initiative. Will the Minister pull his finger out and help the 98,500 families that were promised access to affordable mortgages by the Prime Minister?

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister for Housing

The NewBuy and Firstbuy schemes have helped nearly 20,000, which is in sharp contrast to Labour’s social homebuy scheme, which was launched in 2005. It promised to help 5,000 people, but five years later had helped just 384.

Photo of Greg Mulholland Greg Mulholland Liberal Democrat, Leeds North West

In the Leeds city council area, developers are exploiting the planning framework to build expensive housing on greenfield land. At the same time, there is an acute shortage of social housing, and there are empty homes, in Headingly and Hyde Park. Will the Minister join me in encouraging Leeds city council to use its powers to buy some of those homes for social housing, which they can do under new powers?

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister for Housing

As a localist Government, we want to ensure that we are not directing councils, but clearly, those powers and the additional funds we have brought forward for empty homes are important tools that should be used by all authorities.

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

In answer to the question from my hon. Friend Catherine McKinnell, the Minister seemed to suggest that the cost of rent is a mixed picture across the country. Let me be clear: research from Shelter shows that rents have gone up in 83% of areas. In my community alone, families are spending 60% to 70% of their monthly income on housing. Can I again press the Minister to say whether he thinks that the shortage of housing is causing a cost of living crisis, and what is he going to do to ensure that families keeping a roof above their heads do not have to go without food on their tables?

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister for Housing

Let us look at the figures. Shelter’s numbers relate solely to new rental and not to the whole market—a very small proportion. Have we inherited a crisis? We have taken on difficult circumstances. Unlike the previous Government, under whom 421,000 affordable homes were lost, we are committed to ensuring that there are 170,000 more. We are committed to building more rented, social and owner-occupied housing.