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Housing and Planning Bill committee debates starter homes

Week in Westminster

Published: 20 November 2015 | Author: Michelle Vosper

The Housing and Planning Bill committee had its final oral evidence session on Tuesday with the housing minster, among others. The committee’s clause by clause scrutiny began on Thursday with debate on the starter home scheme. The Opposition tabled a probing amendment to ascertain why the government had rejected the view that the 20% discount on starter homes should be applied in perpetuity.  Labour MP Matthew Pennycook raised issues around the problem of determining the underlying market price of these properties and how the reversion to full market value after 5 years might distort the housing market. In response, the housing minister Brandon Lewis suggested that if the discount is applied in perpetuity “we are in effect asking the lender to give a 100% mortgage, because the market value is not realisable. That simply does not fit with what we are looking to do”. The minister confirmed that the five years provision will be dealt with through regulation.

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords. Labour and cross-bench peers raised concerns about the proposals to convert support for mortgage interest into a repayable loan and increase of the waiting time from 13 to 39 weeks. In particular, there was concern about the impact on low-income pensioners, the self employed, and those diagnosed with life limiting illnesses. On the waiting time, Lord Young of Cookham posed the question of whether lenders would actually “go through the aggravation of repossession if it knew that in a few weeks’ time it would get, direct from the government, monthly interest in full.” He suggested that the housing minister work with the CML on a “memorandum of understanding that repossession would not normally be activated if SMI was about to kick in”. Peers also raised concerns about the 1% reduction in social rents and its impact on housing association finances.

The regulations that implement the funding and administrative arrangements for the Flood Reinsurance Scheme are now published in their final form. There are two statutory instruments – The Flood Reinsurance (Scheme Funding and Administration) Regulations 2015 and The Flood Reinsurance (Scheme and Scheme Administrator Designation) Regulations 2015.

Following the chancellor’s party conference announcement of a “devolution revolution” pledging to give local government extra power and responsibilities, the government published devolution deals for Liverpool and the West Midlands.

The Welsh Assembly has passed the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill which is now expected to receive royal assent in December. The Bill will replace a number of different types of tenancies and licences currently available with just two types of contract – one for the private rented sector and one for social housing.

The Northern Ireland social development minister has published a discussion paper seeking views on how to help make the private rented sector a more attractive and viable option. Responses are sought by 5 February 2016.