Minister’s visit highlights affordable housing progress

John Healey and Roberta Blackman Woods


Labour's Cabinet Minister for Housing, John Healey visited the North East today to highlight the party's support for those wanting to buy their own home.

Labour believes everyone should have access to a decent home, at an affordable price, in the area where they want to live, whether in an urban, suburban or rural area. We have made real progress since 1997 in tackling Britain’s housing challenges, particularly in improving standards in social housing stock and in protecting homeowners from repossession.

However we recognise that Britain is facing an under-supply of new housing to meet growing demand, and are working now to deliver more new housing to rent and to buy. We are working to build the homes the country needs, get people into construction jobs and support the house building industry as we recover from the recession. We have brought forward funding to help build 110,000 new affordable homes over the next two years.

This extra £1.5 billion of investment includes money for housing associations to build new housing for social rent, funding to prepare public sector land for building new homes, and increased investment in the ‘Kickstart’ programme which provides funding to get stalled housing developments back on track where developers have put projects on hold due to the recession. It has also funded councils to start building houses themselves again – this year we will see the largest council house building programme for two decades.

Our Housing Pledge investment alone has created or protected 45,000 jobs and will create 3,000 apprenticeships. We have also announced plans to expand this council house building programme, so that up to 10,000 homes a year are built by 2014/15.

John Healey first joined Dari Taylor, Labour's Candidate in Stockton South to view the regeneration of the Mandale Estate in Thornaby on Tees. The Mandale estate has been completely rebuilt in a partnership between public and private sectors to include a mixture of private, affordable and social housing.

Later, John Healey, visited Bearpark in Durham today to support Roberta Blackman-Woods’ bid for re-election and to highlight the positive difference Labour has made to affordable housing in the area.

Roberta said,

"Delivering more affordable family homes for Durham is something I have made a priority as MP.  And I am promising to carry on that effort if I am re-elected.

"The Labour Government has put supporting the housing and construction industries at the forefront of the help it has given during the recession, and that’s why we are seeing housing projects like this one in Bearpark going ahead.  These new homes are also going to be built to a very high quality with high eco-standards.

"This support was totally opposed by the Tories right from the beginning.

"I am also today launching a campaign to get Durham County Council to use powers it has recently been given by the Government to prioritise local need in the allocation of new homes like these.

John Healey said,

"Roberta has a reputation for campaigning hard for her constituency and she fought hard for new council homes here.  I am really pleased that these new family homes are being built in Bearpark thanks to her efforts and Labour’s support for the house-building industry.

"If local people want an MP and a Government which will carry on building  affordable, family homes, they should vote for Roberta in Durham."