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MPs question housing minister on the Housing and Planning Bill

Week in Westminster

Published: 13 November 2015 | Author: Michelle Vosper

The housing minister attempted to play down comments he made in September prior to the Conservative party conference when he projected a target of one million new homes in the next five years. Speaking to the CLG committee this week in respect of the Housing and Planning Bill, Brandon Lewis was asked to explain what the target is. His response went like this: “Well, actually what happened was that I made the point that seeing a million homes over the course of this parliament would be success. And I still see that as success…I’m not a big fan of targets, because they create unintended consequences”.

On starter homes, the committee chair Clive Betts suggested that as the price of these homes would be high relative to what people could afford, the policy would only attract those who would have bought a home anyway. The minister replied that the £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside London are maximums and he expected to see homes being delivered across those price bands. Mr Lewis also stated that if the 20% discount on a starter home is linked with the 5% deposit on help to buy it would open up home ownership to a range of people wouldn’t have been able to afford it before.

Meanwhile, the Housing and Planning Bill Committee has begun taking oral evidence from stakeholders. Its first meeting was a bumper session with witnesses representing wide range of organisations including the Greater London Authority; local government; the housing association sector; the house building sector; consumer campaign organisations; and the private rented sector. The Bill committee only has until 10 December to complete its scrutiny of the Bill.

The DCLG took oral questions this week on a range of subjects including trends in housebuilding, the private rented sector and longer term tenancies, right to buy and one-to-one replacements, and the link between starter and affordable homes.

Correspondence from the Prudential Regulation Authority to the government has set out that it will review the regulatory regime for smaller banks and building societies to allow a more proportionate approach when applying risk-weighting to calculate their capital requirements. The economic secretary’s reply welcomes the initiative and confirms that the Treasury will support this agenda both at home and abroad.

The Scottish government will publish its draft budget on 16 December.