Lord McFall of Alcluith debates involving the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities during the 2019 Parliament

Social Housing: Right-to-buy Sales

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Thursday 18th April 2024

(1 day, 19 hours ago)

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Baroness Swinburne Portrait Baroness Swinburne (Con)
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I do not recognise those figures. The figures I have in front of me are that, in 2022-23, local authorities reported 10,896 eligible sales, which was very similar to sales in 2021-22, and delivered 8,900 homes that same year. Overall, there was a net increase of 4,600 affordable homes in that year.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, will be participating remotely.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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Has not the now overreaching transfer of housing from public to private sector landlords led to an explosion in rents, costing billions in increased housing benefit? Why should housing authorities be forced to pay for problems created by this strategy, when there is talk of losing a proportion of the capital receipts they desperately need to help fund housing for the homeless—a problem created by the Government? It seems to me that the only beneficiaries are to be private landlords and the Government’s PSBR, while the losers are the poorest in society.

Leasehold Reform

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Thursday 11th January 2024

(3 months, 1 week ago)

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Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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My Lords, I can only reiterate what I have said. We are reviewing this, and it is a complex matter that has ramifications throughout housing law. We are looking at and reviewing the Law Commission’s recommendations, and we are working with the Commonhold Council. It is an important matter, and we will come forward with further steps on it in due course. It is a complex issue, and I am more than happy to meet noble Lords as we move into the Bill. If any noble Lords would like to meet me and my team, I am very happy to do so.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is participating remotely.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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Is not the simple, unvarnished truth that, on leasehold for flats, the Government are under intense pressure from powerful institutions, which have sunk millions into freehold title, to duck the big decision and delay? The Government’s response is to leave it to the next Government to sort out. Is it not no more than an income stream for lazy investors, greedy developers and pension funds, all of which are squeezing the Government through political pressure to back off, while leaseholders pay the price? Labour will sort this out.

Homelessness

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Monday 18th December 2023

(4 months ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, there are currently no plans to change that amount but we are looking to help local authorities with these pressures in a number of different ways. I have mentioned the change to the local housing allowance rate. Something else that the Government have invested substantially in is the local authority housing fund, which allows local authorities to increase their supply of good-quality temporary accommodation to relieve some of the pressures on them. We announced in the Autumn Statement that there would be an extra £450 million going into that fund over the next two years.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is participating remotely.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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Does this Question not take us right back to the price of land for affordable housing? In Nijmegen in Holland, the Waalsprong urban extension of 11,000 homes is being built on 3,000 acres of land acquired at agricultural prices. Similar is happening at Hammarby, near Stockholm in Sweden. Why do we insist on paying landowners inflated land compensation prices when the country needs to house our growing population? We need new thinking on land for affordable housing—it is quite simple.

Local Government Finance

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Tuesday 21st November 2023

(5 months ago)

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Baroness Penn Portrait Baroness Penn (Con)
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My Lords, I would not agree with the noble Lord’s characterisation of the situation at all. While people’s asylum applications are being processed, they are in Home Office-provided accommodation. Some of that accommodation is hotel accommodation, which is in no one’s interest—not that of the people who are accommodated there nor that of the taxpayer. The Government are working hard to reduce the backlog in asylum applications and to move people on from hotel accommodation. My department is working closely with the Home Office and local councils to make sure that that process is as smooth as possible.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, Lord Campbell-Savours is participating remotely.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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Why should people pay inflated rents to private landlords who are coining it in conditions of scarcity? Is not the answer to secure selectively land for housing development at agricultural prices, as has happened in parts of Europe, in particular Germany, and to back up that land purchase policy with a mass building programme of housing for both rent and purchase, but under a new form of title which restricts speculative gains and yet protects the value of freehold title? Speculative markets in land are denying millions a home.

Housebuilding

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Wednesday 7th June 2023

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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My Lords, I will start at the end. The proposed changes to the planning system set out in the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill are designed to support more areas to get an up-to-date local plan in place, and therefore deliver more housing. The Government do not recognise the figure on withdrawn plans. Pauses and delays to plan-making are not something new, which is why we are determined, through our reforms, to reinvigorate local plan-making by simplifying it, speeding it up and strengthening the weight of democratically produced plans in this country. As for the article in the Times, yes, I have seen it and all I can say is that we still want to build more homes of the right type in the right places. We know that increasing housing supply will be made more difficult because of economic challenges, but we are working with the market very closely on the impacts, and to see what more the Government can do to provide support.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, we have a virtual contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours.

Housebuilding

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Thursday 30th March 2023

(1 year ago)

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Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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The Government are committed to building more houses of the right type in the right places, but we know at the moment that there are economic challenges faced by the sector. We need to work as closely as we are, and more closely—and with Homes England—to better understand those challenges and to provide support. We have already consulted on changes to the planning policy that will support how we plan to deliver these houses in our communities, and we will respond to that consultation in due course. I assure my noble friend that we remain committed to a plan-led system, and national planning policy that expects local authorities through their plans to make sufficient provision for housing and identify the sites to deliver these much-needed homes to meet local needs.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is participating remotely.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, if, prior to planning approval, land for both high-density public and private housing development was acquired at agricultural acreage prices, as has happened in parts of Europe, and then allocated for both social rental and restricted leasehold sale to housing associations and housing trust development programmes, would that not be a huge incentive for construction levels not seen since the 1970s, as against today’s numbers, where scarcity is driving up prices and denying millions a home?

Leasehold Reform

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Thursday 23rd March 2023

(1 year ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is participating remotely.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, have Ministers noted the large number of leasehold ground rent investments on property auction sites, as landlords, aware of potential changes in the law affecting valuations, offload their leasehold ground rent investments? Innocent non-professional buyers, ignorant of potential changes in the law, are now buying them—caveat emptor—placing themselves at risk of substantial loss. Should government not consider secondary legislation which would alert an innocent market to the dangers of buying these leasehold ground rent investments?

Housing: Conditions in Rented Sector

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Thursday 16th March 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, will make a virtual contribution.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, what additional consideration is being given to the millions of pensioners, many living in poorly heated social housing and rented property conditions, who, despite existing support schemes and fearful of escalating bills, appear unwilling to turn up the heat and too often suffer in silence? Despite the excellent work of charities such as Age Concern, should not further support be given to targeting this vulnerable group with sensitive advice and even government-sponsored visitor support programmes, perhaps through a multiplicity of agencies?

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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My Lords, it is the responsibility of social housing providers to maintain their properties, and that includes regeneration, but we have found a £30 million fund to help Greater Manchester and the West Midlands and we will be looking at what more we can do for the sector.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Kamall, for curtailing the previous Question with seven seconds to go. Hopefully, I will be more benevolent to him in the future.

Leasehold Charges

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Monday 20th February 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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I thank my noble friend, who perhaps knows more than I do about when that Bill will come to the other place and then to this House. Seriously, publishing a draft at this stage would slow the process down and I do not think any of us wants to do that. But I do welcome the engagement we are already regularly having on leasehold and commonhold reform. I am very happy to work continually with MPs, noble Lords and wider stakeholders until the Bill comes to the House.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, there will now be a remote contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, as part of a question I asked last June on the levying of escalating service charges, I asked whether the Government might consider a scheme for rolling up service charges in a debenture against property title—effectively, a rising legal charge. The debenture holder would pay the resident’s service charge, interest-serviced or otherwise, clawing back payments on death or prior. The Minister promised to consider the idea. Will the Minister check on developments in the department and let the House know where we stand?

Housing: Leasehold Properties

Lord McFall of Alcluith Excerpts
Monday 17th October 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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We have a remote contribution from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, with dramatically escalating service charges nationally aggravating the position, is not the answer greater transparency over leasehold, freehold and sub-lease title issues more generally? Transparency alone can often solve problems where landlord anonymity hides accountability. If that is combined with the rolling-up of lease liability payments pending payment on the death of a lessee under the debenture arrangements I proposed on 20 June, it would ease the problem. Will the Government please look at what I am proposing?

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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The law is very clear that service charges must be reasonable, as in Section 19 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. Leaseholders can apply for a First-tier Tribunal for a determination on this. The Government are also committed to ensuring that service charges are, as the noble Lord says, transparent and that there should be a clear route to challenge or redress if things go wrong. We will continue to work on that for the people affected.

Lord McFall of Alcluith Portrait The Lord Speaker (Lord McFall of Alcluith)
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My Lords, that concludes Oral Questions for today.