British House Building Industry

Part of Uk Shared Prosperity Fund – in the House of Commons at 4:47 pm on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) 4:47 pm, 5th September 2019

I thank Siobhain McDonagh for bringing the debate to the Floor of the House and I thank everyone who has contributed to it.

There has been much agreement across the Floor on what we would like to happen, and, more important, what we do not like the look of and is not the way forward. None of us can agree with the exorbitant pay packets that some people have received. We are also all agreed that—in the hon. Lady’s words—the market is not working. That is right: it is not. We might have different ways of resolving that problem, but we would say that, if there are not enough houses in the market, it is not working. Various implementation schemes should operate for a short period, until we have ensured that there are more houses in the market, and that is what we are doing.

It has been a scandal how fewer houses have been built decade after decade, but we are turning that around. Let us look at some of the figures. We have delivered more than 1.3 million new homes since 2010, including more than 430,000 affordable homes. In the most recent year, we have delivered more than 220,000 additional homes, the highest level in all but one of the last 31 years. The latest indicators show that we are on track to meet our 2015 manifesto commitment to add 1 million more homes by 2020.

Those who have talked about homelessness will be heartened to learn that, for the first time since 2010, the annual rough sleeping statistics have shown a decrease in the number of those sleeping rough. That reflects the Government’s substantial investment and support over the last few years. But what we want to see is the right houses being built; choice in who is building them; and an SME market, not just a market of the top four or five in the building sector. We as a Conservative Government want to bring back the SMEs; 30% were lost during the financial crash and never came back. We want those businesses back and, more importantly, as my hon. Friend Mr Bacon said, we want there to be the right to build: we want to be able to make sure there are not just a few companies, building thousands of homes, because there could be thousands of individuals making their own homes. That is what we are about: choice and opportunity as we go forward.

We have said we would deliver 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s. That is my ambition and the ambition of the Conservative party. How will we go about it? I have said that we have been delivering more each year, but we want to bring together a centre of excellence for construction and engineering in the north of the country. We want to have a global leader for construction and engineering, bringing forth those technological solutions we have been talking about such as modern methods of construction and environmental innovations in the housing market.

However, let me pick up on some of the things we do not want that many Members talked about. I want to work with Sir George Howarth, the hon. Members for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders) and for Brentford and Isleworth (Ruth Cadbury) and my hon. Friend Andrew Lewer. We do not want to see the misuse of leaseholds and the exorbitant costs people are paying. We have brought a consultation forward. We are going to stop the misuse and the bad practices in that field, and we can work on that together from both sides of the House, because we should not have that and we do not want it, and we have already started on that course to make sure it does not happen.