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It is a pleasure to follow Ms Buck, although I suspect that my perspective on housing in London, the south-east and the rest of the country is very different from hers. We have to start from the housing problems that we have and to remember that, as I think the Chair of the Select Committee pointed out, for far too long, we have not built enough homes—irrespective of whether they are for sale, for rent or for social rent—in this country. The key point is that we have to ensure that the delivery of new housing begins apace, and the Bill contributes towards exactly that requirement.
We need to face up to the fact that a small number of very large house builders in this country ration the development of land to maximise their profits from the sale of the homes that they build. We must break the stranglehold of that consortium and encourage small developers to develop new groups of houses, which will give people the opportunity to buy those homes. In addition, over the past 10 years, social rented accommodation has been completed solely by registered social landlords—what we call housing associations—which sit on huge bank balances and assets that they could utilise to build far more units than they do. Far too many housing associations are coasting and not providing the sort of accommodation that we all wish to see. Somehow, we have to break through.
The Bill also resolves the problem that it is very hard for young people to afford the deposit that they need to buy their first home. The principle—the Labour party has not yet fully appreciated this—is that the Government are switching resources from social rented accommodation to the development of starter homes for sale, so that young people and families have the chance to own their own home. Home ownership among that group of people has dropped through the floor. The average age at which someone buys their first property is now about 37, and it is going up all the time. Many people now believe that they will never own their own home, because their income is insufficient.