In 2016-17, we added 217,000 homes to the housing stock in England—the highest level in all but one of the past 30 years. We have set out an ambitious package of reforms to create a housing market that delivers 300,000 homes a year on average by the mid-2020s.
My hon. Friend makes an important point in that developers should be held to account on, for example, delivering their commitments on infrastructure and affordable homes for communities. That is why we are proposing a new approach to viability assessments in the revised national planning policy framework, and we have consulted on further reforms to developer contributions.
May I help the Secretary of State? The fact is that every part of the country is not like Maidenhead. May I tell him that if we want new homes for people in this country who do not have a home, we need homes that are the right homes for the right people? We need social housing and housing for the elderly. We do not just want a large number of houses built in places such as Maidenhead; we need them in real towns and cities up and down this country.
I agree with the broad thrust of what the hon. Gentleman highlights about the range of homes that our country needs. Indeed, our ambition is to deliver 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s, looking at all the different sectors of our communities, and we have been consulting on that in the national planning policy framework to help to deliver it.
If my right hon. Friend looks at the draft national planning policy framework, he will see that it is about plan policy: setting the high-level objectives and then allowing local areas to form their plans. I hope that when he sees the final NPPF he will recognise that.
While the new homes are being built, will the Department consider looking at a requirement on all local authorities to place families within a reasonable distance of schools, as so many children in temporary accommodation are travelling for over two hours to get to their schools?
I acknowledge the broad point that the hon. Lady highlights. That is why we are very firmly committed to providing infrastructure around new homes, and schools are very firmly a part of that.
Further to that question, in east Hertfordshire we recognise the need for more homes, but they must be matched by additional investment in infrastructure and public services. What are the Government doing to make sure that this investment in these vital services is directed to areas where housing development will be at its greatest?
As my hon. Friend will know, the Government have provided a £5 billion housing infrastructure fund to ensure that more homes mean better, not more stretched, local infrastructure. The draft national planning policy framework does make it clear that local authorities should ensure that the necessary infrastructure supports developments that they approve.
So many people’s dream of buying their own home has been dashed, yet the number of new low-cost homes built for first-time buyers has halved since 2010. Why?
I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that we are dealing with what has been a broken housing market—something that has existed over many years, with that lack of investment—which is why this Government are committed to investing £44 billion on the home building agenda in the coming years. That is about transforming life chances, and actually delivering the homes that our country needs and such opportunities for generations to come.
This Government have had more than eight years to do the job, and what they are doing is not working. Home ownership rose under Labour, but has now hit a 30-year low under the Conservatives. We cannot just stoke prices with tax cuts and home-buy loans; we need to build more low-cost homes to make home ownership more affordable. More than three years on from the Government promising 200,000 cut-price starter homes, why is the total number so far built zero?
Last year, we saw the homes that are being delivered at a high, and that has not been any greater, other than in one year, over the last 30 years. The right hon. Gentleman glosses over Labour’s record, but what did we see when Labour was in power? House building—down by 45%. Homes bought and sold—down by 40%. Social housing—down by 400,000. However, there was one thing that kept going up: the number of people on the social housing waiting list. It is this Government who are determined to deliver.