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Political parties clash over housing

Michael Lloyd

December 11, 2019

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The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats Parties have clashed over housing plans in a debate on a Question Time Election Panel.

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, was questioned about the promise of providing 200,000 starter homes which have not been delivered.

He said on the BBC programme: “You’re absolutely right, the previous administration chose not to proceed with that policy but we chose to spend that money to build more affordable homes and we have built 450,0000 affordable homes in this country since 2010, more on average per year than the Labour government did before us from 1997 to 2010.

“In the past year we’ve built more homes in this country than any year bar one in the last 30 years.

“There’s a role for the state in that, we’re now investing £9bn in an additional £240,000 affordable homes and we’re trying to encourage it through reforms to the planning system and infrastructure and the private sector as well because you need the two to be working together to deliver the number of homes you need in this country.

“We think we need to be building 300,000 homes ever year and we believe we’re on course to achieve that.”

Jenrick mentioned some Tory manifesto pledges on housing, such as offering a 30% discount to local first-time buyers to help them buy in their local area and creating a market for fixed rate 95% LTV mortgages.

Jenrick added: “Through serious, good interventions like that I generally believe we can make owning a home an aspiration you can achieve in life.

“I’ve made it my personal mission as Housing Secretary to help more younger people and people on lower incomes onto the housing ladder.”

However Angela Rayne, Shadow Secretary of State for Education for the Labour Party, highlighted Labour’s plans to build 150,000 social and council homes per year with 100,000 built by councils.

She said: “We will create those jobs and skills so we can get those people into construction

“And I make no apologies for the 100,000 council homes we need or making sure that tenancy contracts are a minimum of three years or that we have rent controls in line with inflation.

“I think we can start putting that online straightaway.

“We can’t build 100,000 houses on Friday but we can start to create the national education so people can get the free education to get those jobs.”

Rayne said Labour would make brownfield sites available so the greenbelt is not taken.

She added: “We’ll create community housing again and council housing where people can live with parks and recreational centres and genuine council housing.

“This idea of affordable housing, I’m not sure who’s affording them but most people cannot afford to live at the moment, are in privately rented accommodation that’s way too high and they’re spending too much of their wages on it and it’s a rip off.”

Jo Swinson, leader of the Lib Dems, said her party’s rent to own policy would be changing the system.

Swinson said: “There’s lots of different things that need to be done. There does need to be more social housing built, as well as more housing built overall.

“Not everybody will be in that situation of being able to buy a property, but we have lots of young people who would be able to afford the monthly payments but not be able to afford the deposit, so the scheme we have is basically a rent to own scheme so you pay your usual rent but within time it builds up equity in the home and at the end of 30 years you’d own it outright.”


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