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Housing and Homes

Part of Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:28 pm on 15th May 2018.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government 4:28 pm, 15th May 2018

I would certainly be happy to meet my right hon. Friend and others to discuss that issue. I note his points, although we maintain our views on the broader issue of abusive practices in the leasehold market. However, I will certainly listen carefully to him and others.

Affordability has become an issue and that is why the Prime Minister pledged a further £2 billion of investment in the affordable homes programme, increasing its budget to more than £9 billion. In the spring statement, we allocated an additional £1.67 billion of that funding to London, where the affordability crisis is most acute. That money will enable London to build a further 26,000 affordable homes. We have been clear with City Hall that this must involve funding for genuine social rent properties.

We know that we do not need just more social housing. We need to improve the experience of people living in it, especially following the tragedy of Grenfell. We will therefore shortly introduce a social housing Green Paper to look at how well social housing serves our communities.

I am particularly conscious of the needs of those without a home at all who find themselves in the hugely distressing situation of living out on the streets. One of my first actions as Secretary of State was to award £28 million of funding to Housing First to underline the priority I attach to this work.

Housing First is part of our bold new approach to help rough sleepers off the streets. The Housing First approach has an impressive international track record of almost eliminating rough sleeping. It gives people stable and affordable homes, combining that with expert support to address complex issues, such as substance abuse and mental health problems. That work to tackle homelessness and eradicate rough sleeping is essential. It is totally unacceptable that we still have people living on our streets. We must turn that situation around.

The new pilot projects for Greater Manchester, Liverpool city region and West Midlands combined authority will be an important step. Our pilot programmes will support around 1,000 rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping. I am looking forward to seeing the difference that those projects make in their respective areas, and assessing the case for a national roll-out of the approach.

The projects will also expand on steps we have already taken to tackle rough sleeping, including our new rough sleeping initiative, which combines a new rough sleeping team of experts drawn from Government and agencies, a £30 million fund targeted at local authorities with high numbers of rough sleepers, and further funding to support frontline rough sleeping workers in these areas.

The pilot programmes have laid the foundation of our rough sleeping strategy, which will be published this summer. This Government are investing more than £1.2 billion through to 2020 to prevent and reduce homelessness. We are taking these essential steps to meet our commitment to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and to eliminate it altogether by 2027. There can be no doubt about our commitment to supporting those in desperate need.

Everyone deserves not just a roof over their head but a safe, secure and affordable place to call home. That is the foundation on which everything is built. This is the Government’s top domestic priority and, as Secretary of State, I am determined to do all I can to ensure we deliver the homes our country needs.