Affordable Housing

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:00 pm on 14th July 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 2:00 pm, 14th July 2004

I am grateful for that intervention. I entirely agree. As I said earlier, we cannot simply build ourselves out of the present housing crisis. However, I did not sufficiently explain one point. The affordability gap has been significant for the past 25 years in areas such as my constituency, which has consistently been at the bottom of the earnings league table, but where house prices have always been buoyed by people equity stripping from the south-east, buying second homes and so on. It is just that a gap sometimes becomes a gulf, which is what it is at the moment.

Of course, there are oscillations in the market. Even when there is negative equity, the affordability gap remains for many families. It is not something that goes in cycles and will vanish in a few years when the market rights itself. My prediction is that in areas such as mine the market will never come right. There will always be a significant affordability gap. Therefore, we need to find constructive, creative ways to resolve the problem.

The Countryside Agency's report entitled, "The state of the countryside 2004", published at the end of June, identified a 30 per cent. increase in homelessness in remote rural areas in the past two years. I am sure that the Government have taken that on board.