James Brokenshire contributions to the Finance Act 2019


Thu 1st November 2018 Budget Resolutions (Commons Chamber)
1st reading: House of Commons
39 interactions (3,121 words)

Budget Resolutions

(1st reading: House of Commons)
James Brokenshire Excerpts
Thursday 1st November 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Hansard

I inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. As I intimated earlier, approximately 77 Members want to speak and I know that the Front Benchers will do their best to tailor their contributions to take account of the extent of interest in the House.

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:14 p.m.

This week’s Budget was a Budget for our proud public services, jobs, housing, opportunity and enterprise, and a brighter future for every part of our country. Above all, it was a Budget dedicated to the British people and their tireless efforts to rebuild the economy and to bring it back from the brink and the chaos under the last Labour Government. Let us not forget what a mountain we have had to climb.

Thanks to the Labour party, we are running the highest budget deficit in peacetime, with the Government having to borrow £1 for every £4 they spent. It has been difficult to turn that around, but the families and communities that make up this great country can be confident that their hard work and the Government’s balanced, long-term approach have paid off.

Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:14 p.m.

I strongly welcome the measures in the Budget, particularly those to help small shops on our high streets—they will transform our high streets. Will my right hon. Friend set out what the Budget and the Government are doing to ensure that we have more affordable and social housing?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:15 p.m.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his early intervention. I intend to cover several housing announcements, but he rightly underlines the Government’s commitment to build the homes that our country needs. We want councils, housing associations and the private sector to build, thereby meeting the challenges and problems that the broken housing market has presented. The Government are determined to fix that.

Neil Coyle Portrait Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) (Lab) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:15 p.m.

If the Secretary of State is serious about house building, where is the funding in the Budget for the Bakerloo line extension, which would provide not only vital transport infrastructure for south-east London, but bring with it house building—private house building as well as 5,000 social housing homes and 2,000 genuinely affordable, London living rents?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:16 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for highlighting transport infrastructure. The additional £500 million that the Chancellor announced for the housing infrastructure fund is firmly about investing in that infrastructure to deliver the housing agenda. I will come on to an announcement in the Budget about London and investment in transport infrastructure. It may not be the one that the hon. Gentleman was looking for, but support for the docklands light railway, unlocking housing growth in that part of London, was an important announcement.

The results speak for themselves: the economy has been growing for eight years, over 3.3 million more people are in work, wages are growing at their fastest pace in almost a decade, the deficit is down, national debt is falling, and the number of households where nobody works is down by almost 1 million. Those are huge strides that we risk at our peril. It has taken eight years to secure those hard-won gains, and it is clear that the Labour party would undo all that good work.

The Government are not content with just clearing up Labour’s mess. We have to live within our means, but we have bigger ambitions. We want to build a country in which there is opportunity for all and no one is left behind.

Neil Gray Portrait Neil Gray (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:17 p.m.

The Secretary of State repeated what the Chancellor said on Monday—that the wage growth enjoyed in the past year was the best in the decade. Does he accept that that is easy to say, given that the past decade has been the worst for wage growth in 210 years?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:18 p.m.

I underline to the hon. Gentleman that we have seen that wage growth but there has also been employment growth. Three million jobs have been created under the Government and the Red Book forecasts the creation of 800,000 more.

The important measures in Monday’s Budget that backed our public services, including the NHS in its 70th year, that cut income tax for millions and increased the national living wage, and that ensured that we are open for business and investing in our future, deliver our promise. The Budget delivers for families and communities and provides a major boost for the quality local services on which we all depend.

When I was appointed to this role, I said that I could not be more proud to represent those communities and the dedicated people working so hard on their behalf in local government, and I meant it. I am under no illusion about how challenging it has been for councils to deliver in recent times as they contributed to helping us to put the economy back on its feet. In recognition of that, we have given local authorities more control over the money they raise, for example, through our plans for increased business rate retention from 2020. We know that the pressures on services have been growing, including around social care.

Stephen Timms Portrait Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:18 p.m.

I want to take the Secretary of State back to what he said about the position the Government found themselves in in 2010, when of course, his former right hon. Friend, George Osborne, promised to eradicate the deficit by 2015. They failed to do that, and now there is no target date at all in the Budget for eradicating the deficit. Why that dramatic change?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I have to say in the nicest possible way that it is a bit rich for the right hon. Gentleman to make that point. Labour’s spending plans would cost £1,000 billion. It is an extraordinary sum of money, and all the people up and down the country would bear the cost of the debt for borrowing.

Charlie Elphicke (Dover) (Ind) Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:19 p.m.

My right hon. Friend is making a typically powerful speech. Will he tell the House how the measures in this Budget will help young people on to the housing ladder, particularly as since 2001 home ownership levels have halved for people aged between 16 and 35?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:21 p.m.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The steps under this Government have led to an increase in home ownership, and the first time buyer rate has started to increase under this Government. This has been a challenge and initiatives such as Help to Buy have been important in realising that ambition and the aspiration for people to be able to own their own home. There is also the investment in social and affordable housing through our specific £9 billion programme, which is firmly focused on that.

I want to come back to my point about local government and the pressures we recognise have been growing especially around social care. That is why I am delighted that the Chancellor committed around £1 billion of extra funding for local services, with a strong focus on supporting some of our most vulnerable groups. That includes £650 million for adult and children’s social care; £240 million of that will go towards easing winter pressures next year, with the flexibility to use the remainder where it is most needed for either adult or children’s services. That is on top of the £240 million announced last month to address winter pressures this year.

In addition, the Budget pledged an extra £84 million over the next five years to expand our successful children’s social care programmes to more councils with high or rising numbers of children in care, and an extra £55 million is being made available for the disabled facilities grant in England in 2018-19. This new funding will allow councils to take immediate action to deliver the services their residents need while protecting them from excessive council tax bills.

Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:22 p.m.

As a member of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee and having been an elected councillor for the last decade, I have become all too aware of the devastation wrought on local government by the continuing cuts in previous Budgets. Does the Secretary of State not agree that the Chancellor has missed a massive opportunity to reverse those cuts so that local government can provide those much needed services?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

If the hon. Gentleman looks at what the Budget is delivering—I have already referenced the additional funds being provided around social care, which we have seen as one of the pressures—over the last two years the budget has been going up in real terms. [Interruption.] I hope that, as a member of the Select Committee, he would recognise that. I pay tribute to the work local government has done up and down the country in delivering quality local services, against the backdrop of the challenges we have had to deal with as a consequence of the actions of the last Labour Government, and there are serious—[Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:23 p.m.

Order. Does the House not want to hear the Secretary of State? [Hon. Members: “No.”] I thank hon. Members; that is a straight answer. Hon. Members do not want to hear the Secretary of State, but I tell them that while I am here this will be done fairly and everyone will get a chance to be heard, even the Secretary of State.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Thank you very much, Madam Deputy Speaker.

There are serious long-term decisions to be made about the social care system and how we place it on a sustainable footing, not least how we ensure that health and social care are better aligned. I am working closely with the Health Secretary on this and we will be publishing our Green Paper on the future of social care shortly.

The Budget also provided a further £420 million to help councils to carry out repairs on our roads—money that will help to improve access to workplaces, high streets and other community facilities. I will have more to say about overall funding for local government when I publish the provisional local government finance settlement later this year.

Alison McGovern Portrait Alison McGovern (Wirral South) (Lab) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

I thank the Secretary of State for giving way, just as I was grateful to him for meeting my constituents from New Ferry, but when they heard the Budget on Monday and heard about the investment he is talking about for potholes, they felt abandoned once again. There was nothing in the Budget for the people in New Ferry, who face absolute devastation, as the Secretary of State knows well.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

I am very conscious of the particular issue the hon. Lady highlights to the House, and indeed I greatly appreciated the opportunity I had to meet her constituents, to hear their stories and to hear about the impact the devastating incident has had on that community. I am still considering what the options are, to see how the regeneration can be provided and work can be conducted with the local authority, so I very much look forward to continuing to remain in discussion with the hon. Lady on what I know is a very serious and significant community issue.

Mr Clive Betts Portrait Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:24 p.m.

Will the Secretary of State give way?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:25 p.m.

I will give way to the Chair of the Select Committee.

Mr Clive Betts Portrait Mr Betts - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:25 p.m.

Obviously the £650 million for social care is welcome, but does the Secretary of State accept the Local Government Association figures that the gap next year is actually £2.6 billion? Has he any concerns at all about comments from leaders in East Sussex, Surrey, Somerset and Lancashire, all Conservative county councils, that they are facing a cliff edge that they are likely to fall over at some stage unless the Government take more dramatic action?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:26 p.m.

There has been a recognition of the important step that has been taken in the Budget with the additional funding provided for adult and children social care and how that will make a difference. I will of course look carefully to the future in discussions I will have, through the spending review, on long-term financial support for our local government sector, the innovation and real value I see in local government—what it delivers for our local communities—and I will remain a proud champion for local government. But, as I said, local authorities also have a huge role to play in helping us to build the decent, affordable, secure homes that families and communities so desperately need and deserve. As the Prime Minister has said, this is our biggest domestic priority.

David Morris Portrait David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:26 p.m.

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that more money has gone into services over the years and into communities, but these accusations of cuts are directly as a result of Labour’s great recession?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:27 p.m.

As I said at the outset of my speech, we have had to make those difficult decisions and I know so many people have contributed to this—the British public up and down the country. This Budget is indicating how we are now turning things around and looking positively at what our country can be and what it can do, and how we should be optimistic about our future.

Julian Knight Portrait Julian Knight (Solihull) (Con) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:19 p.m.

I look forward to welcoming my right hon. Friend to Solihull on Friday. Has he seen the report in today’s Times that there has been a surge of activity in UK house building over the last three months, with the greatest number of new homes signed off since the global crash? Is the truth not that Britain is building again, and just because of this Government’s policies?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:28 p.m.

The National House Building Council figures published today are very encouraging about the levels of building activity. We must build the homes our country needs, and we are firmly putting in place a number of steps and measures to help deliver on that. I know there is more to do, but we should recognise that progress is being made. We need to continue to see everyone building across the economy, because as a country we have failed to build enough homes over the decades under successive Governments. As a result, the most basic of needs—a place to call home—is out of reach for many, particularly our young people.

That is changing, thanks to this Government. Since 2010 we have delivered more than 1 million new homes and helped nearly half a million families get on to the housing ladder through Help to Buy and the right to buy, and we are taking action to ban the unjustified use of leaseholds on new homes, crack down on rogue landlords, ban unfair letting agent fees and cap deposits, and end rough sleeping for good.

We should contrast that with the record of the Labour party; not only did housing become more unaffordable under Labour, but under the current Labour leadership it has consistently voted against the reduction in stamp duty, which has helped more people get on to the housing ladder.

James Cartlidge Portrait James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:28 p.m.

A key part of the housing market is the second-hand market, of course. First-time buyers are now making a strong comeback because of the brave measures we took in relation to buy-to-let landlords—changing the stamp duty and the way we treat interest—which means that first-time buyers are now not only on a level playing field but in many parts of the country have the upper hand again.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:29 p.m.

My hon. Friend highlights some of the important steps that have been taken and the impact that they are starting to have, but we know there is much more to do. We know that we need to be bolder and much more radical if we are to fix our broken housing market, make it fairer and match Harold Macmillan’s record by delivering the 300,000 homes a year that families and communities need. That ambition was set out back in 1951, and we will do it again.

This Budget does that and more. By building on the Chancellor’s commitment last year to a five-year, £44 billion housing programme, it reaffirms this Government’s commitment to restoring the dream of home ownership, most notably by securing the future of Help to Buy past 2021 and ensuring that the new scheme is targeted at first-time buyers, who need it most, and includes regional property price caps through to 2023. With most first-time buyers now exempt from paying stamp duty following last year’s Budget, benefiting more than 120,000 buyers so far, this year’s Budget went a step further by extending that relief to all first-time buyers of shared ownership properties worth up to £500,000 and making it retrospective. That is good news for anyone who aspires to own their own home.

Ultimately, however, there is no way we can help more families to get on to the housing ladder without getting Britain building and getting local authorities to play their part. That is why the Chancellor’s confirmation that we are removing the biggest barrier—the Government cap on how much councils can borrow to build more—is such a game changer. It will free up councils to deliver around 10,000 homes a year. It has been great to see how warmly this has been welcomed by councils up and down the country, and how ambitious they are about making the most of this opportunity to deliver the next generation of council housing. We are also supporting housing associations to deliver at scale and pace, with the Chancellor’s announcement of the next wave of deals with nine housing associations, worth £653 million, which will deliver a further 13,000 affordable housing starts by March 2022.

Wera Hobhouse Portrait Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that if we are really going to address the housing crisis we need to build between 50,000 and 100,000 new social homes for rent, and that this Budget is not delivering on keeping that promise? Will he consider giving councils the first right of refusal on public land and allowing them to purchase it at current use value rather than at the development price?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

I am sorry if the hon. Lady does not recognise the important steps that are being taken in the Budget, including allowing councils to borrow in order to invest in new housing growth, our commitment to our affordable homes programme and our long-term deals with housing associations, all of which are making a difference.

Giles Watling Portrait Giles Watling (Clacton) (Con) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that we are attempting to build three new garden communities across north Essex. That will necessitate building the infrastructure to go with them. What is he doing to assist us in that endeavour, which will of course supply some of the houses that are needed in north Essex?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

I very much welcome the authorities that are coming forward with ideas for garden towns and villages, which will be an important part of the vision of a home becoming a reality for more people and of meeting our intent to provide 300,000 new homes per year. I would point my hon. Friend to the housing infrastructure fund, which is focused on delivering the infrastructure and support that allows housing growth to take place. It is important to recognise the additional support that the Chancellor has provided for that initiative in the Budget.

Councils and housing associations undoubtedly have a lot to contribute when it comes to helping us to build more homes more quickly, as do our small and medium-sized builders, which is why Monday’s Budget bolstered continuing efforts to support their revival and market diversification with £1 billion of new guarantees implemented by the British Business Bank. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) for his review of the vital issue of build-out rates, which was published on Monday. He has not found evidence to suggest that our large house builders are engaged in speculative land banking, but he recommends reforms to the planning system on very large strategic housing sites. I look forward to studying his report in more detail, and I will respond more fully in the new year.

Whether through further reforms to planning or securing the future of Help to Buy, we are helping families, communities, buyers and renters in the private and social sectors, both now and in the long term, and in the process we are changing lives. As I have said before, this is not just about building more homes; it is about building stronger communities. Those communities need to know that the right infrastructure, transport links and other essential services are in place to support new developments. It was therefore great to see the Budget boosting the housing infrastructure fund by £500 million, bringing the total funding to £5.5 billion and potentially helping to unlock 650,000 homes. It was also great to see the Budget providing £291 million of grant funding for vital infrastructure on the docklands light railway in east London, which will ease pressure on existing services in the area and generate more than 18,000 homes.

Jamie Stone Portrait Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

The Secretary of State mentioned communities. One of the greatest threats to our communities right across the UK is the continuing closure of bank branches, and I am disappointed that that was not addressed head-on in the Budget. Nevertheless, I give credit where it is due: the Budget did mention the decaying of our town centres. Will he tell us whether Her Majesty’s Government will give a fair wind to the Private Member’s Bill introduced by the hon. Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Luke Graham) to tackle the banking issue?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

I will certainly refer that private Member’s Bill to the colleagues who have direct responsibility for those issues. I think the hon. Gentleman’s broader point was about the vibrancy of our high streets. Banks, post offices, shops and other businesses are intrinsic to creating the sense of a community hub. Our high streets are the heart of our communities, and they are greatly valued. We need vibrant high streets where commerce and communities meet and where people from all backgrounds can come together. I think that is recognised across the House.

It is concerning for many people to see our high streets struggling as shopping habits change, which is why this week’s Budget made it a priority to champion them and help them to adapt, with a significant £1.5 billion package of support. That includes a cut to business rates for small retailers worth almost £900 million over two years, reducing their bills by over a third and amounting to an annual saving of up to £8,000 for a wide range of independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafés. But we are not just providing short-term relief for our retailers; we are also setting out a long-term vision for our town centres, with a £675 million future high streets fund to help councils transform their high streets by making the necessary improvements to infrastructure and transport and by redeveloping underused retail space into homes to help to secure their future.

Seema Malhotra Portrait Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

The Secretary of State is laying out his plan for towns, but does he not agree that the plan needs to be inclusive and give young people something positive to do? Youth services have seen massive cuts of more than 60% in real terms since 2010. This Budget does not seem to be investing in young people. Should it not be doing so?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

I certainly acknowledge the need to ensure that we are inclusive and that we are thinking about the next generation, and there are opportunities for that in what we are seeking to achieve on our high streets and in the creation of jobs, growth and opportunities. A sense of aspiration and ambition resides firmly at the heart of our approach as a Government. We are seeing youth unemployment coming down, and we are creating a sense of ambition and opportunity. I want to underline the huge benefits that the Government are delivering.

Dame Cheryl Gillan Portrait Dame Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

The Secretary of State makes a powerful point about maintaining our communities, and he will know that this Budget contains the starting elements of the arc between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, which has the potential for more than 1 million houses being built across that swath of middle England. Does he agree that, in building those 1 million homes, we must be cautious that we do not sacrifice fragile environments such as the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty, which could easily be buried under concrete if the project is not planned exceedingly carefully and the necessary protections are not put in place?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:31 p.m.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for underlining that arc of opportunity between Oxford and Cambridge—I know that it is very relevant to her and her constituency. We are giving the matter careful consideration and working with colleagues in the Treasury and the Department for Transport on bringing it together. This is about how we can unlock opportunity, about creating transport infrastructure and housing, and about jobs and growth, but it is also about doing it carefully, thoughtfully and sensitively. I understand the relevant point that she has raised, and we will obviously continue to do that work as we look to unlock the area’s potential in a thoughtful way.

I am confident that the measures for the high street, which include a relaxation of planning rules to support mixed-used businesses and extra support for local leaders, will see our high streets flourishing again at the heart of our communities.

We have come a long way since the dark days of Labour’s great recession. With this Budget, we are seeing the hard work of the British people paying off and paving the way for a better future. As the next chapter of our islands’ story unfolds, we will be free to chart our own destiny and seize the opportunities that that brings. We will be delivering on the things that matter most to our families and communities: more homes, world-class public services, help for the most vulnerable, and hope for our high streets. Our best days lie ahead of us. It will be a positive future that is not for the few or for the many, but for everyone.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing) - Hansard
1 Nov 2018, 12:40 p.m.

Order. Before I call the Opposition spokesman, I say to Members that it will be obvious that more people are indicating that they wish to speak than there will be time for this afternoon. We will start with a limit of seven minutes, but that will be significantly reduced as time goes on. However, the limit does not apply, of course, to Mr Andrew Gwynne.