It is a pleasure to speak after my Select Committee Chair; we agree on much, although I am not sure about selective licensing, which is too often a licence to print money for some local authorities. It is also a pleasure to speak with the Housing Minister on the Treasury Bench. I feel, from my short time in Parliament, that he has got at least as good a handle on these issues as anyone I have seen.
We need to build more truly affordable housing, both to rent and to buy. We cannot simply do what Labour would do—put more pressure on an overburdened taxpayer. We must do it in different ways. The best way to do it is to cut out the middlemen or middlewomen; I speak as a middleman who has been involved in the property market for 30 years. There are a couple of simple ways we could do that that are simply too good to miss. The Housing Minister is familiar with some of my ideas on this, particularly on delivering more affordable homes to purchase through the section 106 system.
Every year, we deliver around 25,000 affordable homes through section 106 requirements. They are typically sold to housing associations at 50% of market value. The housing association then rents them out at 80% of market value and puts them on their balance sheet at 100% of market value; nice work if you can get it. Why, instead of doing that, do we not simply sell those properties—or half those properties—to first-time buyers on low incomes, at 50% of market value? That would be in perpetuity and those first-time buyers could pass the properties on to the next person. There is no cost to the taxpayer whatsoever. It is good for them. It is good for the developers, who are dealing direct with their customers. The only people who probably will not be too keen on it are the housing associations, but that is not who we are here for; we are here for real people.