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What is a starter home?

Part of Housing and Planning Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 3rd May 2016.

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Photo of Roberta Blackman-Woods Roberta Blackman-Woods Shadow Minister (Housing) 6:15 pm, 3rd May 2016

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. If the Minister has those figures, we will give him an opportunity now to share them with us, as that would be extremely helpful in allowing us to know exactly what we are going to be voting on this evening.

Although more information is important, we need to remind ourselves that the whole policy of selling off higher value council housing to fund the right to buy is considered by almost everyone to be a very bad thing to do, and that replacement is absolutely essential.

Lords amendment 47, tabled by Lords Beecham, Kerslake and Kennedy, addresses the issue of replacement, and would require the Government to enter into an agreement with a local authority under clause 72 whereby a local authority could show the need for a type of social housing and the Secretary of State would then agree a hold-back sum, so that homes sold could be replaced by houses of the same tenure, type and rent. If the Government do not accept this one-for-one, like-for-like replacement, they need to explain why. The reason this amendment is so important is that few details are in the public domain about how the Government will meet their own commitment for one-for-one or two-for-one replacement in London.

It appears that Ministers could force the sale of a council house in Camden and count two other new homes built for open market sale in Croydon as meeting the so-called commitment to replace. Therefore, the like-for-like replacement in amendment 47 is vital to ensure that housing need is met across the range and that homes for social rent are not simply replaced by starter homes or homes at higher rents, which, as the Public Accounts Committee outlined in its statement, is a real risk.

Furthermore, figures from Shelter this morning outline a truly alarming picture of the impact of the sale of higher value council homes on local authority stock, and I will come on to that in a moment or two.