British House Building Industry

Part of Uk Shared Prosperity Fund – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Lewer Andrew Lewer Conservative, Northampton South 4:27 pm, 5th September 2019

I draw the House’s attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, and I thank the hon. Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) for securing this debate. I have spent much of my working life taking an interest in this core topic, and after becoming a Member of Parliament, housing has continued to be a passion of mine. I have been involved with the housing sector since I served on a planning committee for 12 years, and then as leader of Derbyshire County Council and director of a housing association. As an MP, I sit on the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, and I chair the all-party group for SME house builders. In both roles, I have had the pleasure of working with people from across the private and social housing sectors. In particular, my hon. Friend Mr Bacon has made fantastic progress in championing self-build homes, and I hope he has continued success in that area.

Another area of success can be seen in the excellent work of Northampton Partnership Homes. Its chairman, David Latham, and chief executive, Mike Kay, have laid out ambitious plans for the future of social housing and tackling homelessness in my constituency, but national support from the Government, and local support, will be required to get those plans advanced. I have been encouraged by the Government’s commitment of £1.2 billion funding to tackle homelessness through to 2020, and by the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. I know that has been hugely beneficial in Northampton, and I hope it can help to get people back on their feet and with a roof over their head. Is there more to do? Of course there is, and I look forward to hearing about that from the Minister.

I was pleased to meet Sir Edward Lister, in his then capacity of chairman of Homes England, at a recent meeting of my all-party group. I was thoroughly impressed by what he said and I was encouraged by the approach he had been taking. It felt like there has been a shift and a change of culture at Homes England, or at least the start of a shift. The change needs to be seen primarily in money allocated by Ministers going to where it is needed most and by SME housebuilders getting that access. The sector does not feel that it is anywhere near as straightforward yet as it should be for SMEs in particular.

I am encouraged by the steps and the commitments the Government have already taken in this area, but I hope my right hon. Friend will make reference to, and address how, money from Homes England will get not only to the private and the social sectors, but to the shared ownership housing sector, a sector with a lot more potential than it has yet been able to realise.