Housing: Rent - Question

– in the House of Lords at 3:19 pm on 10th July 2018.

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Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Housing) 3:19 pm, 10th July 2018

To ask Her Majesty’s Government for how many homes for rent on social rents as opposed to affordable rents they provided funding in the years 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, 5,900 homes for social rent and 24,390 homes for affordable rent were provided in 2016-17. Data on 2017-18 delivery is not yet available. We introduced affordable rent to maximise government investment in affordable housing and have delivered over 378,000 affordable homes since 2010. We recognise the need for a wider range of homes to meet the housing needs of all parts of the community, which is why, two weeks ago, we announced new funding for social rent. Some £1.67 billion has been made available to deliver 23,000 affordable homes outside London, 12,500 of which will be at social rent.

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

My Lords, I refer the House to my relevant interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association. How does the noble Lord think that his department will provide the strong and stable leadership needed to deliver the social and affordable homes to rent and homes to own that are so desperately needed when the merry-go-round that is his department has seen four Housing Ministers in 14 months?

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, the noble Lord will be well aware of the changes of personnel in the shadow Government, so I do not think that that is a wise furrow for him to plough. The figures for 2016-17—the last year for which records are available—show that 217,350 new homes were delivered, and those are the best figures for 30 years in all but one year.

Photo of Lord Shipley Lord Shipley Liberal Democrat

My Lords, I remind the House of my interests as listed in the register. I simply ask the Minister this: are the Government still committed to the one-for-one replacement of council houses sold?

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The noble Lord is absolutely right to draw attention to that commitment. It is still a commitment and announcements will be made shortly about the way forward in relation to council housing. Although there is clearly more to do, I remind him that our record compares very favourably with those of Governments before 2010—but, yes, we are still very much committed to that policy.

Photo of Lord Naseby Lord Naseby Conservative

My Lords, as many local authorities around the country are socialist or Labour controlled, would it not be more helpful if the Opposition were to actively promote the idea of local authorities coming forward enthusiastically with bids now that money is available?

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, that would certainly be helpful, and I am sure that the noble Lord opposite has heard that plea. We have announced £1 billion in the housing revenue account and the borrowing cap for bids is being lifted. The account is now open, and bids can be made until, I think, 7 September—certainly until the first week of September.

Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Labour

My Lords, the National Housing Federation and its counterparts in the devolved nations have urged the Government to halt the rollout of universal credit after a study found that tenants in receipt of that benefit are in £24 million-worth of rent arrears and that 73% of tenants on universal credit are in debt. Does the Minister agree that these tenants are doubly hit by the pervasive impact of universal credit and the fact that many of them have to pay unaffordable “affordable” rents rather than social rents?

Photo of Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

My Lords, I will make sure that the noble Baroness gets a full response on universal credit. With regard to affordable and social rents, she will have heard what I said about social rents, and we absolutely intend to do more on that. Since the Spring Statement, we have announced fresh money for this, both for London and for outside London. I have also referred to the borrowing cap being raised and to the fact that the account is open for bids until the first week of September.