The Commons has heard that the Tories failed housing by loosening rules so “big builders profit while renters and buyers on ordinary incomes lose out”.
In their first clash of the new Parliament, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick and his shadow John Healey slugged it out over planning – as it related to affordable homes.
Opening the bout, Healey hit out at the permitted development loophole he said lets developers sidestep the planning rules and build “modern-day slum housing”.
With the loophole in place for four years, Healey asked whether the number of new affordable homes being built has gone up or down directly as a result.
Jenrick countered with permitted development rights subject to a review and acknowledging examples of poor practice.
But “those rights” had, said Jenrick, led to a large number of net additions that would not otherwise have been brought forward.
He said: “That is important, and it is a contributing factor to the fact that, last year, we delivered more homes than any other for 30 years.
“Therefore, the planning reforms taken forward by my predecessors, which I will take forward with my new White Paper, have contributed to getting the homes built in this country that we desperately need.”
Healey swung into a second round, saying the number of new social-rented homes is at a near record low, referencing the Tory-led LGA saying the policy has led directly to 13,500 fewer new affordable homes.
“It hits at the heart of the Tory failure on housing: the rules are loosened so that big builders profit while renters and buyers on ordinary incomes lose out,” said Healey.
“Every Conservative MP should know that they have lost the argument on housing.
“With Ipsos MORI showing a 17-point lead for Labour over the Conservatives on housing, people know the country has a housing crisis and they know the Conservatives are failing to fix it,” he said.
Jenrick said “the facts” spoke for themselves.
“Last year, we built more homes in this country than in any other year for 30 years; we built one million homes in the last Parliament and will build at least one million homes in the next Parliament.
“More affordable homes were built under this Conservative government than under the last Labour government; and we built more council houses last year than in the 13 years of the last Labour government,” he said.