I'm continuing to blog about particular aspects of the Budget, which was presented to Parliament this week. As your representative in Parliament I aim to keep you reliably informed. This blog is about housing, which I know from speaking to many constituents is one of the most important issue facing lots of people in Norwich.
Having a safe, secure home to call your own is something really important. Not only offering shelter, a decent home gives a sense of security and stability, an investment where families can plan for their future, relax in retirement and eventually pass something on to their children too.
The government is determined to fix the broken housing market. Building more homes in the right places is critical to unlocking productivity growth and makes housing more affordable. Last year, at the Autumn Budget 2017, the government set out a comprehensive package of new policies to raise housing supply by the end of this Parliament to its highest level since 1970, on track to reach 300,000 a year. At this Budget, the government sets out further steps to deliver this ambition.
Locally, I have been arguing that we should build the homes Norwich families need. There are thousands of people in our city looking for a home and many more who find housing too expensive. So, we need to build more, and also make those homes affordable.
The National House Building Council’s updated statistics shows that, in the last two years alone, 741 new homes have been registered in Norwich North which is well above the UK constituency average of 597 over the same period. The government's Help to Buy scheme has aided over 600 families in Norwich in buying their first home and I also continue to support measures extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants.
As such, I welcomed the announcement in September this year that the government will put £2 billion new funding into the Affordable Homes Programme to give some housing associations long-term funding certainty to 2028-29. In this Budget the Chancellor announced that the Housing Revenue Account cap that controls local authority borrowing for house building will be abolished from 29 October 2018 in England, enabling councils to increase house building to around 10,000 homes per year.
Furthermore, the Housing Infrastructure Fund, funded by the NPIF, will increase by £500 million to a total £5.5 billion, unlocking up to 650,000 new homes. The government will make £10 million capacity funding available to support ambitious housing deals with authorities in areas of high housing demand to deliver above their Local Housing Need.
I think the continuation of the Housing Infrastructure Fund is a good idea in this Budget. It means something to us in Norwich - the Housing Infrastructure Fund is currently helping to get the Mile Cross depot site underway for hundreds of new local homes here.
I am pleased to see that after measures announced in last year’s Budget, 121,500 first time buyers across the U.K., many in Norwich, have already benefited from the reduction in their stamp duty. Nationally, the number of first time buyers is at an eleven year high, and the measures announced in the 2018 Budget build on the work already underway to help more people get onto the property ladder.
I will continue campaigning to see more housing built in Norwich, so Norwich families have the high quality homes they need. I welcome the work that has already been done and will keep you updated with all the ongoing developments here in Parliament.