Housing

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:54 pm on 9th April 2019.

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Photo of John Healey John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Housing 5:54 pm, 9th April 2019

The hon. Gentleman has a very short memory. In 2009 we were in the direct aftermath of a global financial crisis and recession. It was the action that the Government took then that kept house building going and helped to pull the country out of the crisis. More than a decade on, under this Government, the level of house building has still not reached the pre-crisis peak. We have seen a pitiful performance over the past nine years. The public have lost patience with a Government who, nine years on, try to blame their Labour predecessors.

The Government’s record is now very clear. The rate of home ownership is lower, with almost 900,000 fewer under-45s owning a home now than in 2010. The level of homelessness is higher: the number of people sleeping rough on our streets has more than doubled since 2010. Private rents are higher, with the average tenant paying £1,900 more than in 2010. The rate of social house building is lower, and in the last two years it has been the lowest since the second world war. Let me say this to the Minister. If the Government had only continued to build homes for social rent at the same rate as Labour did in 2009, there would be 180,000 more of those homes—more than enough to house every family in temporary accommodation, every person sleeping rough on our streets, and every resident in every hostel for the homeless.

The Minister said, in response to an intervention from my hon. Friend Catherine West, “We are very close to completing the rehousing of everybody who was involved in the Grenfell Tower fire”. I have to say that, nearly two years on from that shocking national tragedy, the Government’s action is still on go-slow. He would not give the House the figures, but one in 10 of the residents from the tower and one in three of the residents from the wider estate who were involved in the fire still do not have a permanent new home. Eight in 10 residents of other high-rise blocks across the country that are covered in Grenfell-style cladding have still not had it removed and replaced. Those are residents in 354 high-rise blocks across the country, nearly two years on from the fire.