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(Except clauses 1, 4, 8, 189 and 209, schedules 1, 23 and 33 and certain new clauses and new schedules) - Clause 21 - Real estate investment trusts

Part of Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 12th June 2012.

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Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 4:30 pm, 12th June 2012

I very much share those concerns. We have to find ways of resolving these tensions. Indeed, the problem then becomes wider, because if we do not create more affordable homes that have low rents and rely increasingly on what has been traditionally the affordable sector producing housing at higher rents, or if we continue to rely as heavily as we have in recent years on the private rented sector to provide a place for people who can afford it only through housing benefit, we will create further pressures on the housing benefit budget and also considerable pressures on individuals. I think that we all share the belief that it is not right for people to be trapped into what always used to be described as the poverty trap; they are trapped in a situation in which they literally cannot afford to work because the rent on their home is so high.

We have not seen that happening so far in the affordable sector, but I think that we have seen it in the private rented sector. There is almost a kind of Hobson’s choice if we are not prepared to subsidise fully affordable housing. However, I am moving further from the subject before us, so I simply say that there is a role for REITs in the residential sector. It may well be that they will be more appropriate for private rented provision, and they might indeed improve the quantity, quality and management of the private rented sector, which would be to everyone’s benefit.