Affordable Homes Programme Debate

I attended a Westminster Hall Debate on the Affordable Homes Programme on Tuesday 25 April 2023. The debate was led by Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP for Slough.  

The Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) is administered in England (outside of Greater London) on behalf of the Government by Homes England. The Spring Budget 2023 announced that Greater Manchester and the West Midlands Combined Authorities would get control over the AHP within their areas: “…for the first time outside of London, local leaders will now be able to set the strategic direction over the Affordable Housing Programme in their areas.” 

I intervened in the debate to raise important housing issues that my constituents in Walsall South are facing.

“My hon. Friend is making a powerful speech. It is not just Labour councils but Conservative-controlled councils that give land to the developers. There is one development on Broadway where the average house costs £800,000, which is way beyond the reach of most of my constituents. Does my hon. Friend agree that, as well as putting targets on developers, we must give housing associations the freedom to build houses? We see people at our surgeries crying out for homes. We must look at the need and then give housing associations the freedom to build those houses.”

Mr Dhesi MP responded:

“The experiences she has at her advice surgeries talking to her constituents chime neatly with what I am being told. Yes, we must empower housing associations and others to build homes. The focus especially on building council homes is incredibly important, because that is where we as a nation are failing. There is huge demand for council housing in particular, not just in Walsall but in my constituency, but there is just not the supply to go around. That must urgently be looked at. Those targets are being missed.”

I intervened on the Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning, Matthew Pennycook on building energy efficient homes.

“Does he agree that every new home should have a solar panel fitted when it is built?”

“There is absolutely no cost to ensuring that there is an obligation for every new home built to have solar panels. Why does the Minister not look at that? My hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook), Labour’s Front-Bench spokesperson, has said that all these new houses have to be retrofitted. Surely the Minister can consider what can be done with new houses in terms of the environmental factors?”

It is vital that the Government focuses on providing affordable housing. Many of my constituents are struggling to find affordable homes. Housing associations must have the freedom to build houses and councils should have more affordable homes.