Minister accepts case for more housing investment
The communities minister has admitted the government would like to invest more in housing, but insisted it will increase social housing stock.
During a Westminster Hall debate on council and social housing yesterday, Andrew Stunell said he accepted ‘it would be a good thing to have more investment in housing’ but that the government is doing what it can.
‘As a result of our investment programme, in the five years from 2010 to 2015, for the first time since 1979 there will be a net increase in social and local authority homes,’ he said.
‘Although I am ready to concede that it would be good if we could do more, it is important to recognise that this government are outperforming their predecessors by a margin.’
The debate was called by Labour MP for Great Grimsby Austin Mitchell who argued an increase in building homes for social rent is the only way to solve housing problems.
‘We must build affordable, high-quality, public rented housing,’ he said. ‘It is the cheapest housing to build and run; it returns money to the councils because the rents produce more income than it costs to maintain and manage the estates, meaning that councils make a profit.
‘That is the kind of housing that we should be building for people who cannot afford to buy, and that should be the priority.’
Mr Stunell conceded that the government is investing less money in ‘social and affordable’ housing than the Labour government, but said the subsidy needed is also lower – at an average of £37,000 per home rather than £85,000.
Many of these homes will be built under the affordable homes programme, where rents are set at up to 80 per cent of market rates. But Mr Stunell said only around 5 per cent of affordable rent homes would be let at the maximum rate, with the average ranging from 65 per cent of market rate in London, to 79.5 per cent in the north west.