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Housing: Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:06 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Leader of the Liberal Democrats 4:06 pm, 9th February 2016

The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point. In my part of the world, many of our homes are local-occupancy and have covenants that affect their long-term value.

If this is the Government’s only way of trying to tackle this problem, they will not succeed. Their flagship policy on providing affordable homes is narrowly based on a group of homes that are really affordable only for people at the higher end of the private rented sector. That would be fine if it were part of a panoply of offers, but it is not. Those houses are provided at the expense of more affordable homes that would have been provided through section 106 instead. That is why my criticism is fair, and it stands. The houses that are built under this scheme will be exempt from the community infrastructure levy and from section 106 requirements. That means that the families who live in them will, quite rightly, make use of the schools, the roads and the infrastructure in those communities, yet the developers will not have paid a penny to contribute to the upkeep of any of those parts of the vital local infrastructure.

The Bill fails to guarantee that homes sold off under the right-to-buy extension to housing associations will be replaced, and we know from past experience that that is unlikely to happen. Andy Slaughter, who is now leaving the Chamber, criticised the coalition. He could have criticised the fact that so far only one in nine of the homes sold off since 2012 have managed to be replaced. Even a Government who were keen to replace homes that are sold off find it hard to do so.