Housing Need (London)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:19 am on 29th June 2010.

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Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Conservative, Cities of London and Westminster 11:19 am, 29th June 2010

Many of us present are old hands at speaking in Westminster Hall on the continued complexities and persistent demands of providing affordable, decent and plentiful homes in the capital. I fear that I have joined Jeremy Corbyn as one of the usual suspects in that regard, and perhaps in many other ways as well. The frequency of our presence in this Chamber testifies to the difficulty of striking the right balance when dealing with housing need in London.

As those who have heard me speak on this subject before will know, an ostensibly wealthy inner-city constituency such as mine is not in any way immune to these problems-quite the opposite. Housing has been, and continues to be, the single most important issue in my postbag, along with immigration. No doubt, the two things go hand in hand for Westminster, and for any of us with London seats, because this global capital city is a magnet for those seeking to make their fortunes-not only from across the world but from all corners of the British isles.

The pressure that the vast flow of people into and out of my constituency places on our housing stock is enormous. Rental values have shot up in recent years, and so too has the huge cost of providing for those in need, although the amount of money that landlords get from tenants on housing benefit has similarly driven up prices. It is, I fear, for that reason that some of the most shocking and high profile stories about housing benefit have come from my constituency; the £104,000 a year home was in Mayfair in the west end. There are individual families whose accommodation costs the taxpayer thousands of pounds each and every month.

I have a lot of sympathy with what the hon. Member for Islington North said on this subject. There is a risk that some of the proposed changes will drive some of the most vulnerable people out of London, and that will need to happen to a large extent.