Building on the flagship Housing Strategy, the Government has this week unveiled a range of measures to help first time buyers onto the housing ladder, provide support for millions who have been left languishing on social housing waiting lists and get construction on the move.
The announcement that, through the New Homes Bonus, Medway Council has been granted £2,317,239 this year to build much-needed housing in the local area is welcome. The New Homes Bonus, which will start being paid in March, is a multi-billion pound programme which rewards communities when they accept more housebuilding in their area and includes extra rewards for building new affordable homes, and for getting long-term empty homes back into use.
Medway Council, under the leadership of our excellent group of Conservative Councillors, will have ultimate oversight of any proposed building development, not central government. It will be the job of locally elected, and therefore accountable, representatives to decide on the benefits of building new affordable homes versus the human, environmental and economic impact of continuing with Labour’s failed housing policies.
Labour led Britain into a housing crisis – the number of affordable homes fell, waiting lists almost doubled and first-time buyer numbers collapsed to their lowest level for a generation.
As I said on Wednesday in reply to Simon Hughes in the House of Commons debate on Welfare Reform, it is not fair that many of my constituents are forced to get up at 6 in the morning to catch a coach to London because they cannot afford to pay the fare for the train, let alone find the rent for a flat in Bermondsey. It is not fair that the taxes of so many hard-working residents in my constituency of Rochester and Strood are supporting people on benefits who live permanently without a job in some of the most expensive accommodation in the country.
The government is right to tackle the lack of decent homes as a priority while also addressing the huge imbalance in the welfare system which traps people on benefits. I am delighted to welcome the Government’s £2.3m funding for new homes in Medway, which is far more than generous than the grant allocated to our more leafy neighbours such as Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells (£645,997 and £597,603 respectively).
The Government’s action will help local people onto the housing ladder, provide more affordable housing and create local jobs.