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Statement on 'planning for the future'

12 March 2020


Robert Jenrick, Housing, Communities and Local Government Minister makes a statement on planning for the future in regards to housing, following the Budget.

Planning for the future

On 12 March 2020, the Budget was presented in the House of Commons.

The Government announced new housing measures in the budget, including  a new affordable homes programme, a building safety fund to remove unsafe cladding from buildings, funding to help rough sleepers and more.

Robert Jenrick announced in the statement that the Government will release a 'Planning' White Paper in the Spring.

Robert Jenrick: "home ownership seems like a dream that is out of reach"

Mr Jenrick says "home is so much more than 4 walls and a roof" its about "security, a stake in society and about investing for our future."

He said:

"This Government believes in supporting people who are working hard to own their own home and ensuring that young people and future generations have the same opportunities as those became before them."

He went on to say that the Government has built over 1.5 million new homes over the last decade and that the proportion of young homeowners has increased.

However he said "a great deal more is required to be done" because people are "trapped" paying high rents and many are "struggling to save for a deposit" which makes home ownership seem like a "dream".

He says that a Building Safety Bill and a Renters Reform Bill will be presented to Parliament.

In relation to recent flooding, Robert Jenrick concluded by saying:

"I am announcing today that I will be reviewing our policy to prevent the building in areas of high flood risk.

Given the recent devastation suffered by many of our communities, we're putting in an extra £5.2 billion into flood defences."

John Healey: "Treasury's flawed thinking runs throughout"

John Healey said that "this indeed is a follow-up to the budget and the Treasury's flawed thinking runs throughout."

He scrutinised the Government's plans by saying:

"After nearly 10 years, still no plan to fix the country's housing crisis.

"While the promise of the White Paper is a threat to give big developers a freer hand to do what they want, ignoring quality, affordability and sustainability."

He agrees that planning needs reforming however "planning is not the major constraint on the new homes the country needs when 365,000 and only 213,000 were built." As well as "6,200 new social homes were built last year when more than million people are on housing waiting lists."

Mr Healey asked the Government:

  • whether local areas will set targets for social housing targets and not just total housing targets?
  • will new standards be set for greener zero carbon homes?
  • how much extra funding will Government provide to "beef up" the capacity of council planning services?

He says the White Paper is a "red warning" as it can "strip local communities of the powers they have to say 'no' to big developers."

In response to the Minister's proposal to invest in building safety, Mr Healey asked "how many fire risk buildings will this new fund have to cover" and whether he'd guarantee that "no leaseholder would now have to pay the costs to make their buildings safe."

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government released new building safety figures in the morning, which the Minister "hadn't mentioned" in his statement.

In response to this Mr Healey said "nearly 3 years on from Grenfell 266 high rise blocks still have the same Grenfell style ACM cladding on the side".

He also says the Department has not published the test results or numbers of those blocks with unsafe cladding.

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Image: Parliamentary Copyright