Wednesday, 18 January 2017

MPs reject move to help first time buyers

MPs have rejected an attempt to restrict a proportion of newly built homes to first time buyers in the Housing and Planning Bill.

The Labour amendment, which would have allowed councils to impose planning obligations requiring a proportion of new housing for sale to be marketed to first time buyers, was rejected by 277 to 72.

Another Labour amendment, which would have required the 20% Starter Home discount to remain permanently, instead of people being able to sell the property for the full market value after five years, also fell – by 301 to 194.

The Labour amendments were rejected in the House of Commons, as the Housing and Planning Bill was debated at report stage last night.

Brandon Lewis, minister for housing and planning, argued that the government is already supporting first time buyers, by pledging 200,000 new Starter Homes by 2020. He rejected the idea of Starter Homes discounts remaining in perpeuity. He said: “I defend the right of any homeowner to have the same rights as any other homeowner to treat their home properly. If someone can never realise more than 80% of the value of their property, they lose the ability to move upwards in the housing market.”

MPs debated other measures in the bill, including improving the private rented sector and allowing ‘designated persons’ to process planning applications.

Parliament will debate the extension of the Right to Buy to housing associations and the forced sale of expensive council homes on the second day of the bill’s report stage next week.

Speaking in the debate, shadow housing minister Roberta Blackman-Woods voiced concerns that the debate had been pushed back to start at an unusually late 9pm.

She added: “Never in my experience of many bills in this House have I witnessed 65 pages of government new clauses and amendments being produced at the last minute for a bill that is 145 pages long.

“That is simply appalling and means that there will be no proper scrutiny in this house of almost a third of the bill.”

The Housing and Planning Bill places duties on councils to promote the supply of Starter Homes, enables the extension of the Right to Buy to housing associations and forces local authorities to sell high value, vacant homes.



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