[Robert Key in the Chair] — Affordable Housing (Rural Areas)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:18 am on 3rd November 2009.

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Photo of Mark Williams Mark Williams Shadow Minister (Innovation, Universities and Skills), Shadow Minister (Wales) 10:18 am, 3rd November 2009

That is precisely the point. The situation is worse than that. There has been a marked lack of communication within the banks, which means we have reached a ludicrous situation where mortgage offers are given to constituents when they have meetings in the high street branch, but when the offer is forwarded on to offices higher up the banking structure, the branch is told that it was not entitled to make such an offer. My hon. Friend makes a good point. I know Newbridge-on-Wye and that the issue is a problem there just as much as it is elsewhere in Ceredigion.

These problems run deep. I am particularly concerned about the implication on service provision in our villages and the effect on young people. Going back to July 2008-things have become markedly worse since then-the Taylor review identified that only 17 per cent. of purchases were made by first-time buyers. This is anecdotal, but a young couple came to see me in 2005 because they had no housing opportunities. She worked as a carer on a low wage and he worked as a part-time employee at our national library in Aberystwyth. If they had stayed in the area, they would have become part of the hidden homeless, living in a spare room in a parent's house, rather than being able to access accommodation themselves. The couple were forced to leave the locality.

Over 20 years, the proportion of young people in rural areas has fallen from 21 to 15 per cent. It is a sobering thought that without homes and jobs, there is no community left to support local shops, schools and services. It is no coincidence that we are also having a debate in rural areas about the vibrancy of our schools, and that we have had debates about the lack of post offices and the loss of shops and pubs. Such issues are intrinsically interconnected and we need a holistic approach from the Government to deal with them.