Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 25th March 2013.

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Photo of Eric Pickles Eric Pickles The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 4:22 pm, 25th March 2013

Two schemes will be available. The first is the homebuy scheme, which will start from 1 April and is for new construction. From January next year, it will also be possible for buyers to purchase properties other than new builds.

The Government are giving the housing market a kick-start and are maintaining momentum on supply. On planning, we will be reducing planning burdens, making better use of empty buildings, bringing people back to live in town centres and supporting shops. There will be funding of more than £1 billion for thousands of new affordable and privately rented homes, for which we know there is demand. We are putting spades back into the ground and more workers back on site, and giving people more options over where they live.

We are also building on the success of our rejuvenated right to buy. Between July and September last year, numbers doubled, but we will go further. That is why we have put before Parliament regulations that will increase the discount for Londoners, where house prices are highest, to £100,000. The measure will come into effect from midnight tonight.

We are reducing waiting lists for tenants who are ready to move on. Under our schemes, new homes will be built to replace those sold. What is Labour’s response? The Local Government Association Labour group says that the new right to buy is

“a cynical move by the government which is in effect forcing a fire-sale of community assets.”

I am sorry that the shadow communities Minister, Chris Williamson, is not in the Chamber. He too attacked the scheme and bemoaned the fact that in the 1980s,

“we saw council houses being sold off in their millions, and now the Government are at it again.”—[Hansard, 6 March 2012; Vol. 541, c. 241WH.]

As the late Alan Freeman would have said, “Not half we ain’t.”

Labour are the enemies of aspiration. Every council tenant on every council estate who wanted to work hard and move up had the ladder of opportunity kicked away from them under Labour. It will be restored by the coalition. The Government have accepted Michael Heseltine’s proposals for devolving power to local areas, a natural extension of the measures in the Localism Act 2011. The Government are taking decisive action in favour of families with ambition.

The head of the CBI said that

“our call for a focus on the short-term boost of housing has been heeded, alongside an increase in longer-term big ticket infrastructure spending…by shifting £6 billion to housing and infrastructure, the Government has sowed the seeds for growth and jobs.”

The Budget is tackling Labour’s toxic legacy. It is prising open the door of opportunity and heralding a day long overdue, when those who have put everything into this country finally get the chance to own a little piece of the place they call home.

I commend the Budget to the House.