Social Housing

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th December 2017.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 12:00 am, 4th December 2017

What assessment he has made of trends in the number of new homes for social rent since 2010.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

Since 2010, we have delivered 357,000 affordable homes including, as I said earlier, about 128,000 homes for social rent. As I also said previously, we are providing £9 billion for the affordable homes programme, a £1 billion lift in HRA borrowing caps, and rent certainty for social landlords. That will help the sector to build more affordable homes, including social rented homes.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

Shelter has found that in the past year developers have used viability assessments to wriggle out of building more than 2,500 affordable homes to rent or buy, including 200 in Bristol. Will the Minister take steps to remove that loophole when he rewrites the national planning policy framework next year by removing the reference to the need for a competitive return?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

One of the key issues in our consultation on local housing needs, which closed on 9 November, was viability assessments. We will of course review what comes forward, but we have made it very clear that we want developers to build affordable homes.

Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester

After 13 years of Labour MPs in Gloucester in which not a single new social housing unit was built, we now have built some new social housing, but we want to do much more through a master plan involving the Government’s estate regeneration programme. Will my hon. Friend confirm that money may be available through the new national productivity investment fund to help to bridge any potential funding gap caused by low values?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

I commend my hon. Friend for the work that he is doing in his constituency to encourage more building of homes, including social homes, and I am delighted by the progress that is being made in estate regeneration. My hon. Friend’s constituency has received £1.25 million of capacity funding. More detailed eligibility criteria for the national productivity investment fund will be announced in due course, and I shall be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the matter further.

Photo of David Linden David Linden SNP Whip

There was much fanfare in the Budget about housing, but when will the Minister start to understand that if the Government are to tackle the social housing crisis, they must abolish the right to buy?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

Of course we support the right to buy. It has meant that people have been able to own homes, which I think is incredibly important. We are making more money available for affordable homes but, as I have said, there will be at least £44 billion over the next five years so that more homes can be built. We have a housing crisis now because not enough homes were built under the last Government.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

If we are to meet the demand for more affordable homes, there needs to be a partnership between the private and public sectors. What actions can the Minister take to ensure that local authorities work with both sectors in order to deliver the homes that we need?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma Minister of State (Communities and Local Government)

In the Budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor set out the planning reforms that we are looking at, which will have an impact on local authorities bringing forward more sites more quickly for building. We have also announced an uplift of up to £1 billion for the housing revenue account, which will make a substantial difference.