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Housing: Co-operative Housing - Question

– in the House of Lords at 2:52 pm on 25th April 2016.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I draw the House’s attention to my declaration in the register of interests. I am also a councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham and director of a co-op which does not operate in the housing sector.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, the Government continue to support the community-led housing sector, including housing co-operatives, because we want to see communities more in control of decisions that affect them, including the delivery and management of their homes. The March Budget confirmed that £60 million a year from additional receipts from higher stamp duty rates on additional residential properties will be redirected into rural and coastal areas for community-supported housing.

Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Shadow Spokesperson (Housing), Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

My Lords, to support the growth of the co-operative housing sector, what plans do the Government have to legislate to create co-operative housing as a tenure in its own right and what plans do they have to make it easier for land to be made available to build co-operative housing to deal with the housing crisis and provide much needed affordable housing?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I recognise that, by his own admission, the noble Lord has been in the co-operative movement all his adult life, part of that as a Peer. We recognise that co-operative housing and community land trusts in their various forms play an important role in satisfying the demand for housing. They are very individual and bespoke, and are perhaps more of a challenge to promote one against the other. We will look carefully at a pilot that is going on in Wales before taking any further action, but we otherwise very much promote the idea of co-operatives.

Photo of Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Liberal Democrat

My Lords, since for a housing co-operative to start it needs a building or buildings, otherwise it cannot operate, what are the Government doing to encourage mortgages to be available to such bodies? Without a mortgage, a building cannot be acquired. Will the Government consider guaranteeing or underwriting such mortgages—of course, based as a second charge—on the properties? Have the Government had discussions with those in the field who are giving such mortgages, such as Co-operative & Community Finance, the Co-operative Loan Fund and the Ecology Building Society?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

My Lords, we are doing much to expand housing over all of the nation and the noble Lord will know of the different opportunities and tenures that we are promoting. Certainly, it is up to local areas to focus on local co-operatives. As I said earlier, we are providing £60 million to help with this process, particularly in the south-west and Devon,

Photo of Lord Tomlinson Lord Tomlinson Labour

Will the Minister consider getting his officials to look at the housing co-operative movement in Sweden, the HSB, and the significant contribution it makes to the overall housing stock in that country? Secondly, will he give an undertaking that any expansion in housing co-operatives will not tempt the Government to decide that, because some public money has gone into them, they will feel free to start the process of trying to force the co-operatives to sell the tenancies that their members are occupying?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

The noble Lord makes a good point about Sweden and I have no doubt that officials are aware of the Swedish idea. If they are not, I shall certainly remind them. We are looking at the further promotions we can make on the co-operative side but, as he will know, we are focusing on all kinds of different tenures, including taking note of the 86% of people who aspire to buy their own homes.

Photo of Lord Roberts of Llandudno Lord Roberts of Llandudno Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I am intrigued by the reference to a pilot in Wales. Could the Minister tell us more about it and where it is?

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I do not know quite where it is but it is certainly in Wales. I shall write to the noble Lord giving him precise details of that exercise.

Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Labour

My Lords, I think the Minister might have been referring to some new co-operative homes in Cardiff and Newport. Will the Minister confirm that the Government in London will draw lessons from the experience of the Welsh Government who, through their political leadership, have shown that it is possible to build and promote new co-operative housing schemes? As I say, they are in both Cardiff and Newport.

Photo of Viscount Younger of Leckie Viscount Younger of Leckie Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

I am grateful to the noble Baroness for putting me right on that. We are looking carefully at the Welsh projects.