Monday, 3 June 2013

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert Calls For More Affordable Housing

Julian Huppert today called for more support for council and social housing, during Communities and Local Government Questions. 

Julian asked what steps the Government were taking to ensure that much-needed housing was made available as quickly as possible. Lib Dem Minister Don Foster announced that ‘with £19.5 billion of public and private investment, our affordable homes programme is on track to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes by March 2015’.

Julian then asked for the flexibility for Councils to move funding from sites where building had stalled, to areas where progress can start more quickly, which the Government ‘accepted entirely’.

Julian said: “In Cambridge and around the country there has been a decline in available council and social housing. Under the last government between 1997-2010 it declined by an astonishing 421,000 houses. Fortunately, the tide is changing; however, more must be done to ensure that there is enough council and social housing for the people who need it. People are waiting for housing, and we need to get on with building more affordable homes for them.”

Catherine Smart, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council expressed her satisfaction with the Minister’s response stating that, "Cambridge City Council is ready and willing to press on with building new social rented and affordable housing. The Minister's comments that the Homes and Communities Agency should allow a client to switch from a scheme that is stalling to one which is ready to go is very good news".

The full exchange is as below:
Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): What steps he plans to take to increase the supply of local authority and social housing.[157161] 
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Don Foster): With £19.5 billion of public and private investment, our affordable homes programme is on track to deliver 170,000 new affordable homes by March 2015. In addition, the introduction of self-financing for local authority housing provides authorities with flexibility to increase supply. 
Dr Huppert: I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer, but will he consider also instructing the Homes and Communities Agency to allow councils and registered social landlords to switch grant funding from sites where progress has been delayed to other sites where the prospect of an early start on the ground is better, so that we can have the social and council housing that we so desperately need? 
Mr Foster: I am sure my hon. Friend will welcome the funds made available for 717 new affordable homes in his area. I know he is concerned about the Trumpington Meadows development. The Homes and Communities Agency is in discussion with the developers and we entirely accept my hon. Friend’s suggestion that, in the appropriate circumstances, the HCA could transfer the funding to another developer in the nearby locality.