Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Part of Department for Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 6:10 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Labour, Warwick and Leamington 6:10 pm, 2nd July 2019

My hon. Friend always makes an important point, and his knowledge of the sector is unsurpassed. He is absolutely right that we should suspend the scheme and think about how the budget should be used urgently to kick-start a social rented programme.

I say all this because of the pressing and urgent crisis of homelessness and rough sleeping. My hon. Friend Rachael Maskell gave us an example of what this crisis looks like across our communities, as our housing markets are distorted by developers. Lord Porter put it very well when he said that a good home provides a good chance of good health, good education and good lives. The reality is that, without good homes, we are seeing a huge increase in social and health-related issues, all of which add to the already great burdens faced by our local services and thus our local authorities.

Local government faces huge challenges indeed: the rising costs and numbers related to children’s services; the crisis that is the unsustainable pressure brought by adult social care; the closure of hostels; the cuts to welfare services; and the closure of children’s centres, libraries and fire stations. But I would assert that the desperate need for social rented housing is at the core of so many of the problems we face. To that end, I urge the Minister to reconsider the allocation of budgets, to slash the support for and suspend Help to Buy, to lay claim to the housing benefit budget and to use that money to kick-start the industrial-scale social housing that our society desperately needs.