Local Housing Need

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:34 pm on 14th September 2017.

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Photo of Alison Thewliss Alison Thewliss Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Cities), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Treasury) 12:34 pm, 14th September 2017

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. In his analysis of the housing problem that England faces, he referred to the housing market and rungs of the ladder, but that reference to a market strikes me as the problem. As we move through life, our housing needs change, so there is a spectrum of housing needs, rather than one ladder that people go up and down, and which is entirely based on the purchase of property. We need to look at the whole mix of housing available to people right across the UK.

The Secretary of State mentioned the changes to local plans. I ask that he speaks to the Minister with responsibility for housing in the Scottish Government, Kevin Stewart. We have a system called strategic housing investment plans, in which local authorities set out investment priorities for affordable housing, demonstrate how they will be delivered, identify resources, and enable the involvement of key partners. That co-operation with a range of key partners makes the system something that Secretary of State might want to look at in more depth.

The Secretary of State failed to mention the right to buy, which has driven this crisis in England by reducing the housing stock. Those houses have not been replaced. Since the Scottish Government brought in right to buy, we have kept 15,000 homes in the social rented sector and have protected that stock for the use of future generations, which is absolutely vital.

The Government are making house building in the social rented sector more difficult; in particular, the 1% rent cap at a stroke reduced the ability of social rented housing providers to carry on with their investment plans. They may have had things that they wanted to do in the pipeline, but cuts to their resources may have significantly reduced their ability to carry them out. I urge the Secretary of State to reconsider the 1% cap.

It is important that the Secretary of State looks at the full spectrum of housing, not just at the market—that is, houses to purchase. If he does not, the UK Government will continue to fail so many people who are in vital housing need.