New Homes for Social Rent

Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham 12:00 am, 12th March 2018

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

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Since 2010 we have delivered 357,000 affordable homes, including about 128,000 homes for social rent. The Government are providing £9 billion for affordable housing, a £1 billion housing revenue account borrowing freedom, and rent certainty for social landlords. Those measures will support social landlords to build more affordable homes where the need is greatest.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

The number of Government-funded homes built for social rent fell to 199 in the past six months—the lowest number since records have been kept. Is it not now clear that there is an urgent need for a major Government-funded programme of social housing?

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I know that this is an issue that the right hon. Gentleman has championed, and it is a pleasure to do business with him. We absolutely recognise the critical role that supported accommodation can play in helping vulnerable people to live independently. In fact, we have delivered almost 30,000 new units and we have plans to increase the number in those areas that need it most.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

I thank my hon. Friend for her answers. Will she explain why the Department is returning to the Treasury money that could be used to build desperately needed affordable new homes?

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I am delighted that my hon. Friend has asked that question, because some people seem to be causing mischief. This is less than 3% of the total budget. The money has been re-profiled, to come back in in future years. When councils, local authorities and housing associations can bid in, the money is there to be spent. We want it to be spent.

Photo of Alex Norris Alex Norris Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham North

Building council houses is a very effective and financially prudent way to provide houses for social rent, but it is being choked off by the Government persisting with only inching the cap up, when they could remove it completely. When will they remove the cap and let our councils get building?

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I do not understand why people misunderstand what is going on in local government finance. For those areas with the most serious shortages of affordable housing, the cap has been lifted to £1 billion of borrowing. We need local authorities to step up. If the hon. Gentleman’s local council has projects, like mine does, they will be looked on favourably. Please ask local councils to step up.