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Housing: Long-Term Plan

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:33 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis Minister of State (Communities and Local Government) 4:33 pm, 9th February 2016

On this occasion I am afraid I have to “disagree with Nick”. We are expanding Help to Buy, as I will say in a moment, and I do not think that giving 1.3 million more people the chance to own their own home is a small percentage. A lot of people have the right to aspire to that, and we will support them in their aspiration.

Our plans for housing are delivering, but I agree that we must do more. We are still dealing with Labour’s deficit in public finances, and we must now tackle the housing deficit with that same determination. Both are required to ensure that this is the turnaround decade. We must build more, but this is not only about the number of new homes; we are also determined not just to halt, but to reverse the slide in home ownership that began in 2003, which the shadow Housing Minister said was not such a bad thing. With so many people kept off the housing ladder for so long, we are determined to deliver our promises quickly. That is why in the spending review the Chancellor announced the biggest investment in housing for 40 years. We are investing in what matters most to young people and British families, with £20 billion set aside for housing.

Our work includes major investments in large-scale projects, including garden towns in places such as Ebbsfleet, Bicester, Barking Riverside and Northstowe, and £7.5 billion to extend Help to Buy. The equity loan scheme through to 2021 will support the purchase of 145,000 new-build homes. I notice that the new adviser on housing to the Labour party wants to end that, so perhaps the shadow Minister will say whether Labour is supporting the end of Help to Buy, as its adviser has suggested.

Last week we doubled the value of equity loans in London to 40%, and 50,000 people have already registered their interest. We will ensure that the scheme continues, and we will deliver on our promise. A quarter of a million people are already investing in our Help to Buy ISAs so that they can save for a deposit. The brand new Help to Buy shared ownership scheme will deliver a further 135,000 homes, by removing many of the restrictions that have held back shared ownership. For example, an aspiring homeowner in Yorkshire could get on the housing ladder with a deposit of just £1,400. In the south-east, it will cost under £2,500, and in London, £3,400. Those possibilities will be open to anyone of any occupation who earns under £80,000, or £90,000 in London. Our plans will improve the housing market across all tenures: a £1 billion housing delivery fund to support small and custom builders; £8 billion to help build 450,000 affordable homes; and 200,000 starter homes available to young first-time buyers with a 20% discount at least. We make no apology for this innovation in the delivery of affordable homes—it is what people want, with 86% of our population wanting to buy their own home—and for making sure that they can reach that aspiration. The reality of home ownership can be within their grasp. It is right that we help to make their aspiration more affordable.