James Brokenshire debates with Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

There have been 31 exchanges between James Brokenshire and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Thu 23rd January 2020 Holocaust Memorial Day 9 interactions (199 words)
Thu 5th September 2019 Building Safety 3 interactions (55 words)
Mon 22nd July 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 88 interactions (3,086 words)
Mon 17th June 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 87 interactions (2,748 words)
Mon 10th June 2019 Grenfell: Government Response 31 interactions (4,247 words)
Thu 16th May 2019 Definition of Islamophobia 5 interactions (1,373 words)
Mon 13th May 2019 Domestic Abuse 35 interactions (3,275 words)
Thu 9th May 2019 Buildings with ACM Cladding 39 interactions (3,986 words)
Wed 24th April 2019 Local Government and Social Care Funding 37 interactions (3,006 words)
Mon 8th April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 73 interactions (2,133 words)
Mon 4th March 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 55 interactions (1,602 words)
Mon 4th March 2019 Stronger Towns Fund 103 interactions (5,968 words)
Wed 20th February 2019 Antisemitism in Modern Society 14 interactions (2,606 words)
Tue 5th February 2019 Local Government Finance 42 interactions (2,778 words)
Mon 28th January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 78 interactions (2,272 words)
Thu 20th December 2018 Deaths of Homeless People (Urgent Question) 68 interactions (4,381 words)
Thu 13th December 2018 Local Government Funding Settlement 91 interactions (5,560 words)
Mon 10th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 96 interactions (2,366 words)
Mon 12th November 2018 Appointment of Sir Roger Scruton (Urgent Question) 44 interactions (1,781 words)
Mon 5th November 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 79 interactions (1,944 words)
Thu 1st November 2018 Budget Resolutions 39 interactions (3,121 words)
Wed 5th September 2018 Tenant Fees Bill 5 interactions (707 words)
Mon 23rd July 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 86 interactions (2,216 words)
Mon 18th June 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 66 interactions (1,766 words)
Mon 11th June 2018 Grenfell Tower 26 interactions (2,887 words)
Mon 21st May 2018 Tower Block Cladding (Urgent Question) 58 interactions (2,440 words)
Mon 21st May 2018 Tenant Fees Bill 20 interactions (1,736 words)
Thu 17th May 2018 Building Regulations and Fire Safety 43 interactions (3,065 words)
Wed 16th May 2018 Grenfell Tower 15 interactions (1,852 words)
Tue 15th May 2018 Housing and Homes 14 interactions (2,132 words)
Mon 30th April 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 71 interactions (1,801 words)

Holocaust Memorial Day

James Brokenshire Excerpts
Thursday 23rd January 2020

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 11:53 a.m.

The main purpose of today’s debate is to highlight the importance of people remembering, not forgetting, and of making sure that future generations know what the survivors knew and what the outside world knew and did not stop. May I suggest that today is not the day to go into too much detail of proposals that do not fulfil the specification of September 2015 for a national memorial? We might do better on another day.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 11:53 a.m.

rose—

Luke Hall Portrait Luke Hall - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 11:53 a.m.

I am happy to give way to my right hon. Friend.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for the powerful and moving speech he is giving and for underlining that on Holocaust Memorial Day and in this debate, we must continue to challenge all forms of hatred, bigotry, division and antisemitism. We must reassure British Jews that they are and always will be a special part of what Britain is all about. In that spirit, does he agree that having a holocaust memorial and learning centre is essential to underline both that commitment to them and our duty to ensure that law and practice can never take us down a dark path like the holocaust?

Luke Hall Portrait Luke Hall - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 11:57 a.m.

I thank both my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (James Brokenshire) for their interventions. I completely agree that the memorial will stand as a reminder that a central role of democracy is to encourage tolerance for ethnic, religious and racial differences that will foster religious freedom, individual rights and civic responsibility. It will prompt a sincere commitment to mourn and to remember, and absolutely for us to act.

All of us gathered here today are united in our stand for a tolerant and respectful country where everybody from every background is equally valued. I look forward to the debate.

Break in Debate

Andrew Percy Portrait Andrew Percy - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 12:20 p.m.

I cannot disagree with a word that the right hon. Lady says. As she has powerfully outlined in previous debates, she has been on the receiving end of vile antisemitic abuse. This does come from the leadership down. Leadership is needed from all of us, but there should be no doubt about the position of our political leaders.

That is why I agree with the Minister’s comments and urge colleagues to sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition. The APPG sat in Portcullis House for a very long time yesterday to encourage colleagues to sign up. Many still have not done so, but I ask them please to sign up to the IHRA definition, because that is one way in which all of us can demonstrate leadership and show our commitment to zero tolerance of antisemitism.

Of course, antisemitism and antisemitic tropes were the beating heart of Nazism, yet in the past few years there has been a resurgence of holocaust denial, and the holocaust has been distorted and denigrated. Sadly, the context is worsening, particularly online. An American study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that fake news is 70% more likely to be shared on social media than a true story. The Antisemitism Policy Trust and the Community Security Trust have found that the number of searches for “holocaust hoax” on Holocaust Memorial Day is 30% above the average for the rest of the year. If someone types the words “Jew joke” into Google, they will find some of the most shocking and disgusting antisemitic, holocaust-minimising and racist bile they can find. This all occurs in an online space that impacts on our real world, and a particular concern at the moment is seen in the use of gaming, with gamers targeted as a route into antisemitism. That surprised me, but perhaps it does make sense, and we have to do a lot about that.

As the Institute for Jewish Policy Research has shown, the chances are that while only 2.5% of the public may be what we would understand as antisemites, one antisemitic opinion is likely to be held by some 30% of the public. Therefore, the chances of encountering antisemitism in this country are relatively high. That is not to say that 30% of people in this country are antisemitic—of course not—but it is certainly the case that we hear casual things such as, “But of course the Jews do seem to be very wealthy.” The people who say such things would not consider themselves antisemitic, but they will use such a trope. They casually throw it in without, as I say, considering themselves to be antisemitic.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
23 Jan 2020, 12:22 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his election to his new role on the all-party group. He makes a very important point about education. I have had the privilege, I would say, of going to Auschwitz and Buchenwald and actually seeing the reality. I know the power of taking such an education to a new generation. Will he comment on the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust to see a new generation really appreciating such an education and the power of young ambassadors taking forward a message to ensure that we really do never forget?

Andrew Percy Portrait Andrew Percy - Hansard

Absolutely.

Building Safety

James Brokenshire Excerpts
Thursday 5th September 2019

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Sep 2019, 12:02 p.m.

I remind the House that I am looking for single-sentence questions without preamble.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire (Old Bexley and Sidcup) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I support what my right hon. Friend has said in his statement about driving forward cultural change and ensuring that people are safe in their homes? I also encourage him to follow through on the social housing Green Paper to see that tenants have that voice to challenge their landlords and to drive change.

Robert Jenrick Portrait Robert Jenrick - Parliament Live - Hansard
5 Sep 2019, 12:03 p.m.

I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s work. A number of the initiatives that I announced today commenced during his tenure and he was the driving force behind them. I will, of course, take forward the social housing Green Paper. We are considering the very large number of representations that we received, and I will update the House in due course.

Oral Answers to Questions

James Brokenshire Excerpts
Monday 22nd July 2019

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart (Brentwood and Ongar) (Con) - Hansard

19. What steps his Department is taking to reduce the time it takes to build new homes. [912095]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:34 p.m.

More housing was delivered across England last year than in all but one of the past 31 years. We have examined the recommendations of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) on the build-out review, and the Government responded in full at the spring statement earlier this year with a commitment to speed up the planning system and introduce new guidance to encourage diversification.

Scott Mann Portrait Scott Mann - Hansard

May I give the Secretary of State some feedback from architects and planners in Cornwall? The community infrastructure levy is having a detrimental impact due to not only the onerous nature of the number of forms that need to be filled out, but the fact that sites that could be deliverable are not coming forward because of the money. Will he look at that to see whether he can bring forward more sites, because we all want more houses in Cornwall?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:35 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for the input from Cornwall which, as he knows, is where my family hail from, so I take particular interest in it. Small developers can benefit from exemptions for self-build homes and developments of less than 100 square metres. The CIL contains flexibility and some exemptions, and we introduced guidance in July, but I will certainly listen to my hon. Friend and, indeed, other hon. Members about the community infrastructure levy.

Alex Burghart Portrait Alex Burghart - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:36 p.m.

Does the Secretary of State think that modular building methods could play a bigger role in helping us to increase the supply of housing?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I do, in short. Modular building is an essential part of our work to get speedier build out, to ensure diversification of materials, and to get skills for people. It has been good to see how housing associations and the private sector are starting to embrace it. There is more to do, but I recognise my hon. Friend’s point.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:36 p.m.

It is not just about how much time it takes to build a house, but about the types of houses being built. Will the Secretary of State further outline whether a scheme is in place to provide smaller apartments close to town centres for elderly widows and widowers and those with mobility issues?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman will know that housing is devolved in Northern Ireland, but I recognise the absence of an Executive and therefore the need to be able to respond to such local issues. However, our policy in relation to England is clear: we want to see diversification and we want to see that local authorities are able to meet the needs of their communities.

Mr Chris Leslie (Nottingham East) (IGC) Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:37 p.m.

If we are to tackle the housing crisis, we cannot just focus on the large developers. Small developers used to build two thirds of the new housing in this country, but that has gone away. Instead of just having the Help to Buy scheme, why not have a “help to build” scheme that supports or underwrites small and medium-sized construction companies to get rid of some of the difficulties that they encounter?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I totally agree with the hon. Gentleman about ensuring that smaller builders are able to play their part, which has implications for localities and for the supply chain. Indeed, funds are available for smaller builders, but it is a challenge to see how we embody that. Councils are also able to use their new flexibilities to borrow to build, and we will continue to champion that, because the diversification that he highlights is critical.

Mark Garnier Portrait Mark Garnier (Wyre Forest) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

2. What steps he is taking to tackle the mis-selling of leasehold properties. [912075]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:38 p.m.

I am pleased that the Competition and Markets Authority is investigating mis-selling and onerous leasehold terms and looking at whether such terms are deemed to be unfair, and we will consider further action when it reports. That work supports a strong package of reforms to promote fairness and transparency for leaseholders.

Mark Garnier Portrait Mark Garnier - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his comments but, despite those efforts, buyers of brand-new properties in Kidderminster in my constituency still believe that they have been misled in terms of leasehold contracts and contracts relating to communal services charges on new build estates. Given that we agree that we need to increase house building significantly across the country, does the Secretary of State accept that the apparent mis-selling must be properly investigated and brought to an end once and for all before the scandal affects millions upon millions of future homebuyers?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:39 p.m.

I absolutely do. Unfair practices in the leasehold market have no place in modern housing, and neither do, for example, excessive ground rents that exploit consumers who get nothing in return. I called on the Competition and Markets Authority to look into this issue, and I am pleased it has now responded, also reflecting the calls from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee—I note that the Chair of the Committee, the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts), is in his place this afternoon.

It is right that we get to the bottom of this, that we challenge it and that we respond to these unfair practices firmly and effectively.

Lucy Powell Portrait Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:40 p.m.

When will the Secretary of State introduce regulation to give leaseholders redress? The leasehold valuation tribunal is toothless and, frankly, worthless. Whether it comes to erroneous charges, mis-selling, dangerous cladding or expensive charges, leaseholders have nowhere to go. There needs to be urgent regulation.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:40 p.m.

I recognise the hon. Lady’s call, which is why we have taken a number of steps and will be bringing forward legislation to ban new leases on houses and to reduce future ground rents to zero monetary value. The Select Committee obviously highlighted the issue of existing leases as well, and we therefore now have a pledge in place and a number of people are coming forward to provide that direct response. I keep this issue under continual review as to what further steps are needed to change the situation for the future, as well as providing support for those already in this situation.

Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:41 p.m.

My right hon. Friend and his team have, over the past year or so, made more progress than was made in the previous 20 years, which is greatly to be welcomed. May I ask that he continue showing the open-mindedness, flexibility and drive that are necessary to undo some of the past misdeeds, whether by declaring clauses to be unfair, and therefore unenforceable, or by finding simple, low-cost ways of righting wrongs that have been around for far too long?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:41 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his comments. We have firmly focused on this issue of leasehold, and I know the close attention he pays to the steps that have been taken. Obviously, the Competition and Markets Authority will be looking at this issue of unfairness. In relation to the Select Committee’s response, there are legal complexities with existing contracts, but I assure him that we will continue to focus on this to provide that effective response.

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:42 p.m.

Hundreds of my constituents have written to me similarly feeling that they have been mis-sold their freehold, so I have written to the Competition and Markets Authority asking it to extend its inquiry to cover freehold, where people have to pay excessive and ever-escalating management and service fees. Will the Secretary of State support me in this?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I certainly support the hon. Lady in seeing that inappropriate or unfair practices are properly investigated and properly responded to. If she is willing to share with me the details of the complaints she has received from her constituents, I would be happy to look into this further.

Eddie Hughes Portrait Eddie Hughes (Walsall North) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:42 p.m.

In my excellent recent private Member’s Bill, I suggested that ground rent for leasehold properties should be set at the lower of £250 or 0.1% of the property’s value. Does the Secretary of State agree with that suggestion?

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:42 p.m.

It is good of the hon. Gentleman to blow his own trumpet.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:42 p.m.

I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) for his private Member’s Bill setting out the steps that are needed to bring the leasehold market into an appropriate space. He will have heard what I said about bringing ground rents down to zero. We have given that commitment, and the right thing is that we move forward with our proposed legislation. I am sure that, with his ingenuity, he will be able to scrutinise it and, no doubt, come up with further proposals to ensure that legislation is effective.

John Healey Portrait John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:43 p.m.

This session may be the swan song of the Secretary of State and his team. We certainly hope not, and we wish them all well in the Tory turmoil to come.

Break in Debate

John Healey Portrait John Healey - Parliament Live - Hansard

Indeed.

The CMA’s inquiry is certainly welcome, but it is action by Ministers that homebuyers ripped off in the leasehold system need most. The Secretary of State’s predecessor said in 2017 that the Government would stop new leasehold houses, but nearly 3,500 were sold last year. The Secretary of State himself said a year ago that he would end the use of Help to Buy for new leasehold houses, but he had to admit to me afterwards that that will not happen until 2021.

As the Secretary of State reflects on his time in this job, will he concede that any Government action has been too slow and too weak and has totally overlooked the needs of current leaseholders locked into unfair contracts?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:44 p.m.

No, I do not accept that. I direct the right hon. Gentleman to the action that has been taken and the fall that has been seen: the proportion of new build leasehold houses has fallen from 11% in quarter 4 of 2017 to 2% in quarter 4 of 2018, which was the lowest quarter so far for leasehold houses in the Help to Buy equity loan scheme. The right hon. Gentleman issues a challenge on the existing Help to Buy scheme; he will have noted that I have asked Homes England to look into how we can renegotiate some of those contracts, because I was clear that there should be no new Government funding for schemes that promote leasehold, and that remains a firm commitment. Equally, we are taking action on the scheme now to confront some of the abuses that there are.

John Healey Portrait John Healey - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:46 p.m.

Well, lots of warm words and fresh reviews, but no action. There have been 19 Government announcements on leaseholds in the 15 months that the right hon. Gentleman has been Secretary of State, but there is still no sign of change for current leaseholders, or of the legislation to make it happen. Is not the hard truth that Conservatives cannot help leaseholders because they will not stand up to the vested interests in the property market? Do not homeowners who are looking for justice and radical, common-sense changes have to look to Labour to set a simple formula for people to buy their own freehold; to crack down on unfair fees and give homeowners the right to challenge high costs or poor performance from management companies; and to put an end, finally, to the broken leasehold system?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

Clearly, the right hon. Gentleman has not been looking at the practical steps we have taken and, indeed, the performance that we have seen. Perhaps that is because of the turmoil in his own party—there has been plenty on the Opposition Benches. I direct the House to the steps that have been taken, the commitments that have been made and the effect that all that is now having. We are championing the cause of leaseholders and confronting some of the really unfair practices. We are seeing the effect that that is having as a result of the steps we have taken, rather than the hyperbole from the Opposition and the continuing turmoil that we see among them.

Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard

3. What recent discussions he has had with local authority leaders on the future funding of children’s social care. [912076]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:47 p.m.

My Department regularly meets council representatives to understand the services that they deliver, including children’s social care. Although the Department for Education has policy responsibility, we work closely with it and sector representatives in our spending review preparations. The Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Jake Berry), is meeting the hon. Gentleman this week to understand his concerns.

Luke Pollard Portrait Luke Pollard - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:47 p.m.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Social care accounts for two thirds of Plymouth City Council’s budget, and with more and more children with more and more complex needs relying on social care provision, that spending is only going to go up. It is hard to plan for rising social care costs if we have uncertainty, so will the Secretary of State set out when Plymouth City Council and other councils throughout the country will find out their allocations for 2020-21?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:48 p.m.

Obviously, the hon. Gentleman will be able to discuss this matter further with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary; indeed, I believe that meeting will take place later today. Plymouth has seen an increase in funding this year, with a core spend of £198.4 million. The hon. Gentleman issues a challenges on the need for certainty for next year; I understand that challenge and responded to it firmly at the recent Local Government Association conference. I am working with colleagues across Government to see that we have that certainty as early as we can possibly get it. Yes, it is linked to the spending review, but we know that planning is needed, and I am championing the issue so that we get it.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:48 p.m.

A National Audit Office report this year showed that there is huge variation between the costs of and the activities delivered by local authorities throughout the country. The same report showed that there is no link at all between per pupil funding and the quality of the services delivered, according to Ofsted. Does my right hon. Friend agree that funding alone will not sort out the problems in either children’s or adult social care?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I agree with my hon. Friend and am grateful to him for highlighting the evidence that he rightly raised. We are working with the Department for Education on the review of relative needs and resources, including by jointly funding specific research on the need to spend on children’s services. We want to champion good practice and to ensure that it is there to drive change and improvement in children’s services. My hon. Friend is right that it is about delivery and not simply looking at the funding.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:48 p.m.

The Secretary of State says that he is working desperately hard to give certainty, but does he recognise that officials in Newcastle City Council are also desperate to ensure that the children in our city receive adequate care from next April, and they cannot do that job if they do not know how much funding will be available to support children in Newcastle?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:50 p.m.

The point that the hon. Lady makes is one that I recognise and one that I did address at the Local Government Association conference. We are approaching a spending review—a new period for the overall funding for local government—and I want to ensure that we give certainty as early as possible. That is what we are working to achieve, so the planning that she and others want for councils is absolutely what I want, too, and it is why I am doing all I can, within my powers, to see that that happens.

Mr Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:50 p.m.

Northamptonshire has the second most expensive children’s social services in the country and is one of the very worst performers, so it is not about money but about management and leadership. In welcoming the appointment of a Children’s Commissioner, will the Secretary of State work with the Department for Education to speed up the implementation of the Children’s Trust rather more quickly than is presently envisaged?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:51 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting the issue in his own area in Northamptonshire. Equally, I can say to him that I will continue to work with him and colleagues in relation to advancing this issue in terms of the reforms that are needed and implementing them speedily. I can give him the assurance that he seeks on working with colleagues at the Department for Education. Indeed, I can confirm to him that I will continue to listen to him and see that changes are implemented as effectively and quickly as we can.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:51 p.m.

When the Secretary of State looks back on his record in the current Government, which will be his biggest regret: savage cuts to funding of children’s services, or the wider impact of austerity pushing more children into needing those dwindling services in the first place?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:52 p.m.

One thing I will not regret is ensuring that I did not listen to some of the advice that I have been hearing from the Opposition. Indeed, we saw this weekend that, on the issue of the contracting out of services, their approach is effectively one that does not look at value for money or at the quality of service; it does not look at anything, it is just based on dogma. That is not our approach, which is about delivering quality services, sticking up for communities and making sure that we have well-run councils. Indeed, it is also about seeing that we are getting that funding going into social care and other services, too. That is what motivates us; that is what motivates me. I will certainly take no lessons from the Opposition.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:52 p.m.

I asked the right hon. Gentleman about children’s services. Of course, we can see that the Secretary of State just does not get it. His cuts have had dire consequences. The Public Accounts Committee says:

“Children’s social care is increasingly becoming financially unsustainable. The proportion of local authorities that overspend…increased to 91% in 2017-18.”

The Tory-led LGA also says that there is a £1 billion funding gap for children’s services this year. When will he understand that his sticking plaster approach will not fix the broken children’s services?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

Again, we hear the same from the hon. Gentleman. When I look at the real-terms increase in core spending that councils have received this year, what do I get from Labour Members—opposition to that. They did not support it. They did not support that additional funding going into social care—children’s and adults’. We on the Government Benches have listened and responded. We will continue to take that forward, with the funding that has gone in over five years to support 20 local authorities to improve their social work practices, in addition to my commitment to listen to the sector and to advance its cause as we look to the spending review ahead to see that social care—children’s and adults’—is effective and delivers for our councils and our communities.

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 2:54 p.m.

Order. In calling the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Louise Haigh), I wish her a very happy birthday.

Break in Debate

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

12. What steps his Department is taking to deliver economic growth through the midlands engine. [912088]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:15 p.m.

The Government are investing £1.6 billion through the nine midlands local enterprise partnerships and have established the £250 million midlands engine investment fund. Some £217 million of the local growth fund is being invested in the Black Country, and projects such as the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, with Dudley College, will drive economic growth in the area.

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:15 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that response, but businesses and residents in my constituency are frustrated at a lack of connectivity. Does the Secretary of State agree that a priority for the midlands engine and the Government as a whole must be to invest substantially in connecting our region, whether by rail, by road or digitally?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I agree with my hon. Friend’s point about connectivity, and he will know that I visited Dudley recently to hear about those issues directly. That is why £215 million of the transforming cities fund has been made available to the West Midlands Combined Authority to support extending the midlands metro tram links to Brierley Hill, enhancing accessibility across the Black Country and helping to drive growth.

Imran Hussain (Bradford East) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

13. What assessment he has made of the potential effect on levels of local authority service delivery of the removal of deprivation measures from the local government funding formula. [912089]

Break in Debate

Andrea Leadsom Portrait Andrea Leadsom (South Northamptonshire) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

14. What steps local authorities are able to take to hold to account developers that do not engage with local communities on (a) section 106 agreements and (b) other local planning matters after planning consent has been given. [912090]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:18 p.m.

Our recent reforms gave local authorities the tools to make it more difficult for developers to renegotiate contributions after planning consent. Where developers do not deliver on contributions, these can be enforced through legal proceedings. Finally, local authorities are required to consult on planning applications before consent is granted.

Andrea Leadsom Portrait Andrea Leadsom - Parliament Live - Hansard

As part of a planning agreement, Persimmon is responsible for building a relief road for Towcester as part of that town’s expansion in my constituency. Highways England is providing £4 million to try to bring forward delivery of the road, but that now seems to be at risk due to problems between the developer and Highways England. Will my right hon. Friend meet me to discuss how we can work together to ensure that the road gets built?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m.

I would be very happy to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss the point she makes. We want to ensure that there is a tie-up on infrastructure; the £5.5 billion housing infrastructure fund is there precisely to support that activity. On section 106 agreements, the Housing Minister and I firmly believe that transparency —publication and making them available, so there is direct accountability—is really important. I will certainly meet my right hon. Friend.

Mr Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m.

The Secretary of State will know that over my time there have been serious problems with the non-delivery of section 106 agreements, so could we not look at them? When building houses, land tends to be cleared and trees cut down. Under a new kind of section 106 agreement, we could make developers put money into building new forests, such as the Great Northern forest and the White Rose forest.

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that how we create stronger, greener environments is a part of the delivery we firmly need, so that we have a relationship between built and natural environments. I believe very strongly in creating communities. The new planning guide, with the national planning policy framework, provides greater certainty, but we continue to review this area with an accelerated planning Green Paper later this year. If the hon. Gentleman has specific points he would like to raise on how we ensure that that sense of greenness within development is upheld, I will be very grateful to hear from him.

Mr Mark Prisk (Hertford and Stortford) (Con) Parliament Live - Hansard

18. Developers are not the only ones who do not engage with local people. In fact, the whole way in which we consult on planning is out of date and is regarded with some scepticism by many members of the public. May I urge the Secretary of State to tackle that—not least by putting in proper resources and extending the scope of neighbourhood planning, as his Minister referred to earlier? [912094]

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting neighbourhood plans, which I believe in very strongly, and how we garner that greater consent for development to take place. I underline the sense of how we speed up the process with planning, with development and with those plans. That is what the accelerated planning Green Paper is all about. I would be delighted to continue to discuss this matter with my hon. Friend and others to ensure that we make that effective.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T2. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities. [912100]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m.

Just over a week ago, I visited the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany where my children’s great grandfather was held by the Nazis after Kristallnacht. He was one of the lucky ones. He was able to leave Germany and be reunited with family, but millions of others were not so fortunate. The visit redoubled my determination to deliver the national holocaust memorial and learning centre.

There is a duty on all of us across the House to stand up against antisemitism, racism and bigotry. Through initiatives such as the communities framework, which we have just published, we must stand up for our shared values of openness, understanding and decency. We reaffirm those values, as we mark the centenary of the Addison Act this month, with plans to end the practice of the segregation of social housing tenants through new guidance on development to prevent people being denied access to shared facilities such as playgrounds. I will continue to champion the values of fairness that underpin my work as Secretary of State.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m.

What steps is my right hon. Friend’s Department taking to ensure there is a co-ordinated cross-Government plan to make sure that areas with very significant housing growth, such as Corby and east Northamptonshire, receive the investment in infrastructure they need?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:20 p.m.

The £5.5 billion housing infrastructure fund is a cross-Government effort to unlock housing by supporting infrastructure development. With the Department for Transport and the Treasury, we are looking at ways to build capability across Government to make that as effective as possible. My hon. Friend is right. It is about that sense of delivery and consent, and seeing that homes are supported by the infrastructure they need.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

On Thursday, it was confirmed that high pressure laminate cladding, exactly like Grenfell-style ACM cladding, is lethal in certain combinations and must be removed from buildings. This could affect up to 1,700 additional blocks. The Secretary of State has known since last October that this cladding failed a fire test. No building should be covered with lethal materials and there are lives at stake, so I ask the Secretary of State: how many buildings are covered in this lethal cladding? What is the deadline for the removal of that cladding? Will the Government fund its removal?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:24 p.m.

The hon. Lady needs to be careful about the detail of what she has said, because she will equally know that there has been a BS 8414 test in relation to high pressure laminate, with different types of insulation, where the finding was not the description that she has set out. We have provided advice in December 2017 and December 2018. We have now reaffirmed further advice to building owners to see that they take appropriate action to make buildings safe. That is what we have taken action to see and secure, and further steps are being taken with local government to test the type of materials that are in buildings. There is certainly no sense on this side of not taking the action that is required to make people safe.

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con) Parliament Live - Hansard

T3. A number of constituents are trapped in unfair leases. What is the Minister doing to ensure that they can buy out their lease from a developer at reasonable cost? [912101]

Break in Debate

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T6. A damning report from the Select Committee on Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that the £200 million set aside to fund the removal of aluminium composite material cladding from private residential buildings will not be sufficient. Will the Minister commit to funding work to ensure that all this potentially life-saving work can be carried out everywhere it is needed? [912104]

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:26 p.m.

We believe that the £200 million, which was an exceptional sum, based on the extreme risk that this ACM cladding has, is sufficient to provide the necessary support to make the necessary remediation, the reason being that commitments are already in place from a number of private sector developers and builders, as well as other insurers, to see that that work is undertaken. It is on that basis that that sum has been ring-fenced.

Bim Afolami Portrait Bim Afolami (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T4. Under this Government, greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 25% since 2010, which is a considerable achievement. However, there is much more we can do to make our housing stock much more environmentally friendly. The Minister for Housing knows about this issue, because I have spoken to him about it several times in the past few weeks. Will he or the Secretary of State illustrate what we are doing to deal with it? [912102]

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:27 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that. He sets out that need for improving the energy efficiency of new and existing homes—that aim is very much shared by the Housing Minister. We plan to consult this year on uplifting the building regulations’ energy-efficiency requirements for new homes and work to existing buildings. Policies are also in place to improve existing homes, and these include the energy company obligation scheme.

Siobhain McDonagh Portrait Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T7. Mr S has been a brilliant private tenant for the past 12 years in his flat, always paying his rent on time, and decorating the flat and repairing it when necessary. He is also a great patriot, as a Royal Navy reservist. But none of this matters: in eight weeks, when his landlady issues him a section 21 notice, he will become homeless through no fault of his own. How is that right or fair? [912105]

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

We want to get this right in the private rental sector, which is why we have launched the consultation today on section 21 and how we provide that reform. If the hon. Lady wishes to draw the circumstances of this case to my attention, I will be happy to receive the details, because the sense of fairness underpins the action we are taking and is why these reforms are necessary.

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T5. The midlands has economic, cultural and historical ties with countries in every part of the world, but few are stronger than those with India. Will my right hon. Friend update the House on developments for a midlands engine partnership with business in India? [912103]

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am pleased to say to my hon. Friend that some further positive steps have been taken since my visit to India last October to forge those relationships between the midlands and Maharashtra in India. I hope to be able to give him some positive news very shortly on signing a memorandum of understanding to really regularise that and underpin how we ensure we have that shared expertise to create jobs, boost trade and take other steps to cement this and create that positive sense of prosperity that I know he strongly advocates.

Anneliese Dodds Portrait Anneliese Dodds (Oxford East) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard

T8. Why has the Housing Minister not accepted the need for new primary legislation to implement the Letwin review’s call for land value uplift to be properly captured? That would support social housing construction, including in areas such as Oxford. [912106]

Break in Debate

Steve Reed Portrait Mr Steve Reed (Croydon North) (Lab/Co-op) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:33 p.m.

The Government are still allowing the use of flammable cladding on school buildings up to 18 metres high, which of course means most school buildings. A disabled child would have great difficulty getting out if there were a fire. Why won’t the Government do what every parent wants and bring in a total ban on flammable cladding on schools?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:33 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for flagging this up in the way he has. I took the step to introduce the ban on combustible materials on the surface of walls of high-rise residential buildings and others. We keep this under review. The Department for Education takes the lead on some of these standards, but I will certainly impress upon it the issues he raises, because safety and security are paramount.

Andrea Jenkyns Portrait Andrea Jenkyns (Morley and Outwood) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:34 p.m.

What is the Department doing to make sure that Help to Buy is more accessible for those on lower incomes?

Break in Debate

Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:35 p.m.

I do not want to assume that Ministers have seen the letter that was sent to the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Jim Fitzpatrick) and me today by the director general for housing about the chairman of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership and LEASE, the Leasehold Advisory Service. It deals with one issue satisfactorily. May I ask Ministers to see whether the alleged social media comments which pose a difficulty can be sent to the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on leasehold and commonhold reform to establish whether he can overcome the second difficulty?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:36 p.m.

I will look into the matter and come back to my hon. Friend.

Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck Portrait Mrs Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:36 p.m.

Representatives of nearly 50% of children’s services have said that they no longer feel able to keep children safe. Recent research has shown that private fostering, children’s homes and social worker agencies have amassed an estimated annual profit of £220 million, while simultaneously costing local authorities £20 million. At what point will the Government put the needs of vulnerable children before private profit?

Break in Debate

Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op) Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:37 p.m.

The crisis in adult social care is likely to become worse as it becomes harder to recruit staff from the European economic area to work in that sector post Brexit. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Home Office to ensure that the sector has access to the long-term labour supply that it will need?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:37 p.m.

I have had discussions with not just the Home Office but the Department of Health and Social Care, and we have pursued the issue with our local government delivery board, which brings together councils from across the country to ensure that such issues are well planned. We keep this issue under careful review, but I believe that councils will rise to the challenge and ensure that the services on which their communities rely will not be disrupted.

Emma Hardy Portrait Emma Hardy (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Jul 2019, 3:38 p.m.

Hull is proud of its maritime history, and our relationship with the sea has shaped not only our culture and our economy, but even our character. What support and encouragement can the Minister give Hull City Council in its bid to become an official maritime city?

Oral Answers to Questions

James Brokenshire Excerpts
Monday 17th June 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Giles Watling Portrait Giles Watling (Clacton) (Con) - Hansard

1. What steps he is taking to help young people get on the housing ladder. [911351]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:34 p.m.

Since 2010, more than half a million people have been helped into home ownership through Government-backed schemes, including Help to Buy and the right to buy. The recent independent evaluation of the Help to Buy equity loan scheme found that 63% of first-time buyers using it were under 35.

Giles Watling Portrait Giles Watling - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:34 p.m.

While the lifting of the housing revenue account cap is welcome and will deliver more council-built homes, which will be used to meet the long-standing demand for council housing across the country, we need more private homes. What more can the Government do to help the delivery of that private housing, which will bring prices down and increase the availability for young people?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:35 p.m.

My hon. Friend has made an important point about the housing revenue account cap and our desire to see more council homes built, but he is right to say that we also want to see a general increase in housing supply. Last year’s figures show that more than 222,000 homes were delivered, the highest number for a decade. As my hon. Friend says, there is more to do, but I should emphasise to him that the number of first-time buyers is at an 11-year high.

Tim Farron Portrait Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:35 p.m.

The Government are failing to meet the housing needs of young people in the south lakes, while ignoring the simple fact that thousands of local houses are sitting empty as second homes. Will the Secretary of State agree to change planning and tax regulations, so that we can limit second home ownership and give our young people the chance of a place to call their own?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:35 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman has highlighted the broader issue of the need to increase supply. We have made reforms to ensure that there is clarity in the planning process, and through the schemes that I have mentioned. However, if the hon. Gentleman’s challenge is that there is more to do, yes, there is, and that is why we are determined to see that increase in supply. I think that is the best way to address the issues that he has highlighted in relation to his own constituency and others across the country.

Mark Pawsey Portrait Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:36 p.m.

In my constituency, we are delivering homes at three times the rate of the country as a whole. Does my right hon. Friend agree that maintaining supply of all styles and tenures is the key to enabling young people to make a start on the housing ladder?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:36 p.m.

I do agree, and I am well aware of the housing opportunities that are being taken up in and around my hon. Friend’s constituency and the work that is going on there. He has made a powerful point. If we ensure that all types and tenures of housing are being developed, that housing will be delivered more quickly, and that is where the focus lies.

Dr Rupa Huq Portrait Dr Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) (Lab) - Hansard

14. The average full-time salary among my constituents is above national norms at £37,500, but that is still way off the house price that the Government class as affordable, at £450,000, and it is half the cost of the average sale achieved in W5 in the first quarter of the year, which was £905,348. One flat even changed hands for £3.5 million. What are the Government doing to relieve the pressures on young people specifically in London, where salaries and speculation are forcing out everyone but the children of the super-rich? [911366]

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:37 p.m.

About £9 billion is being spent on the affordable homes programme, and half of that is going to London. I hope that the hon. Lady will join me in encouraging the Mayor of London to focus on the delivery of housing of all types for all people, and to ensure that there is that bright prospect in London as well as the rest of the country.

John Healey Portrait John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab) - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:37 p.m.

After nine years of Conservative government, why are nearly 900,000 fewer people under 45 able to own their own home?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:38 p.m.

It is interesting that the right hon. Gentleman should make that point. He may recall saying in the past that falling home ownership was not “such a bad thing”. I should have thought that he would support the increase in delivery that I have mentioned, and, indeed, the fact that the number of first-time buyers is at an 11-year high.

John Healey Portrait John Healey - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:39 p.m.

Is not the truth that the Government have been failing young people on housing for nine years? One in five of those on the Help to Buy scheme are not even first-time buyers, the average age of those on the right to buy scheme is over 50, and not a single one of the new starter homes that were pledged in 2014 has yet been built. Where is the new hope, and where are the new housing plans, from the wannabe Tory leaders?

Is it not clear, after nine years of Conservative government, eight Housing Ministers and four Secretaries of State, that the Conservatives still have no plan to fix the housing crisis, and is it not clear that the only hope for young people with regular incomes is a Labour Government with radical plans for discounted First Buy homes, first dibs for local people on new homes, and a programme for the building of a million new affordable homes both to rent and to buy?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:39 p.m.

I wondered, given the right hon. Gentleman’s peroration, whether he was building up to Christmas, but I can say to him that a Labour Government are absolutely not that gift, because if we look at Labour’s record in office we see house building fall to levels not seen since the 1920s. I would underline to him the work this Government have done: last year there were 222,000 new dwellings; only in one year in the last 31 have we seen a higher number. So it is a bit rich of the right hon. Gentleman to make those points when, for example, Labour has opposed and voted against our stamp duty cut for first time buyers, which is absolutely about making the difference for young buyers. The Labour party opposed that measure, which underlines that it is the Conservative party that has the ideas, the innovation and the energy, whereas the Labour party, frankly, offers none of that at all.

Damien Moore Portrait Damien Moore (Southport) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

2. What steps his Department is taking to support efficiency across local government. [911352]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:40 p.m.

This year we gave £20 million to the Local Government Association to fund council improvements, we introduced a programme to boost the use of digital technologies, and we are developing a tool to help councils improve efficiency. These measures will help councils continue their impressive work to manage budgets and deliver quality services.

Damien Moore Portrait Damien Moore - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:41 p.m.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that councils should do their utmost to learn from best practice so that hard-working taxpayers are not burdened with bills, and that it is disgraceful that my local council, Labour-controlled Sefton, has wasted £32.5 million on a dilapidated shopping centre?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:41 p.m.

My hon. Friend rightly makes the point about Sefton, and councils should absolutely be focused on delivering good-quality services and value for money. That is why we are investing in areas such as digital innovation and looking at how that can drive further support. My hon. Friend is also right about ensuring that good practice is shared, and we are working with the LGA and others on that.

Mr Clive Betts Portrait Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:42 p.m.

I am sure the Secretary of State will accept that local government has had a 30% cut in spending since 2010 and also that councils have done incredibly well through efficiency savings and other measures to mitigate the worst impact of the cuts, but has he now seen the report by PwC for the County Councils Network saying that by 2025 there will be an £8 billion funding gap for councils? Does he accept that efficiency savings are not going to bridge that gap and that what we need now is an end to austerity and a major increase in funding for councils from the Government? Will he go to the Treasury and argue for that to happen?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:42 p.m.

I need no encouragement from the hon. Gentleman to make that case for local government and its power and ability to deliver good-quality local services. I recognise the challenge the hon. Gentleman brings to me in his question, but I highlight to him the real-terms increase in core spending power made available to councils this year. This Government have made that commitment to councils, but I absolutely want to be on the side of councils and commend them for their innovation and the work they do.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:43 p.m.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his answers thus far. May I commend to him a booklet published in 2011, with a forward by one of his notable predecessors, on efficiency in local government, which I had something to do with? May I suggest that no authority in the country has yet taken every single efficiency measure, and that we should roll that out right across the country?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:43 p.m.

I certainly look forward to perhaps continuing this discussion with my hon. Friend outside the Chamber, and I commend him for his work in rightly highlighting the issue of value for money. Of course we can and should do more, and it is important that where there is good practice we learn from that.

Rosie Duffield Portrait Rosie Duffield (Canterbury) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:43 p.m.

Is the Secretary of State aware that 544 homes across Kent managed by East Kent Housing have not been regularly subjected to vital landlord gas safety assessments, and has he had conversations with the four local authorities, cash-strapped themselves, across the affected parts of Kent to make sure that this never happens again?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am very willing to talk to the hon. Lady about the issue she highlights, and obviously safety for residents is an absolute priority concern for me and Members across the House, so if there are further details that she would like to share with me I would be very happy to pursue this on behalf of her and her constituents.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

Conservative-controlled North West Leicestershire District Council has frozen its council tax for the past decade. Can the Secretary of State confirm that council tax in 93 English local authorities is lower in real terms this year than it was in 2010-11?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for highlighting the great work of so many Conservative councils up and down the country, with their sense of value for money, delivering for local people and local services and ensuring that council tax is kept low. This is absolutely about getting those priorities right and delivering for local people.

Hannah Bardell Portrait Hannah Bardell (Livingston) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

When the Secretary of State looks at those efficiencies, is he aware of the New Local Government Network’s findings that a no-deal Brexit could contribute to an increase in demand for services to provide vulnerable people and families with support? Is he also aware that council grants in England from central Government have been reduced by nearly 50%, not to mention the £80 billion black hole in UK Government finances that a no-deal Brexit would leave? Will he and any future Prime Minister tell us how they will protect the most vulnerable in our society from a no-deal Brexit scenario, because they will certainly not be able to do it through efficiencies?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

I appreciate that the hon. Lady is making her own point in her own way. Obviously, local government is devolved in Scotland, and she also makes her own point in relation to no deal. Preparations have been put in place and funding has been provided to a number of local councils in England, and we are ensuring that the money designed for EU preparations actually gets to where it needs to go, whereas that has not always been the case with the Scottish Government.

Faisal Rashid (Warrington South) (Lab) Hansard

3. What recent assessment he has made of the effect of changes in the level of Government funding for local authorities on the adequacy of the services that they provide. [911353]

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

21. What recent assessment he has made of the effect of changes in the level of Government funding for local authorities on the adequacy of the services that they provide. [911374]

James Brokenshire Portrait The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

Our recent settlement confirmed an increase of £1.3 billion in resources for local government this year. This real-terms increase recognises the critical services that local government delivers. Core funding is nearly all un-ring-fenced, giving local government control over its local income and the freedom and flexibility to spend according to local needs.

Faisal Rashid Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

We know only too well by now that central Government underfunding of local authorities has devastated many of our constituents through cuts to many essential services. Perhaps the most dismal funding failure of all from this Government has been on housing, with the building of social housing at its lowest level since world war two. When will the Government wake up and realise that our housing is in crisis and at breaking point?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

I say gently to the hon. Gentleman that he has not recognised one of our biggest reforms in social housing, which has been to lift the housing revenue account borrowing cap. This will enable councils to borrow in order to build a new generation of council homes, and I want to see councils utilising and harnessing that so that we can build homes for people and ensure that councils play their part in that.

Vicky Foxcroft Portrait Vicky Foxcroft - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

Lewisham Council is fully committed to using the public health model to tackle youth violence, but since 2010, its budget has been cut by more than 60%. The Home Secretary says that the Government are also committed to that approach, but how does the Minister expect local authorities to put sufficient funding into schools, social services, housing and youth services when their budgets are being slashed?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:45 p.m.

I would highlight the fact that £261.2 million is being made available in Lewisham in 2019-20—a £7 million increase. The hon. Lady makes an important point about knife crime, and this is why we have targeted support through our troubled families programme, with around £9.8 million pounds being made available to actually get through to some of these issues with young people and to see that some of the work around families is accentuated. I am sure she will have an opportunity to make further points in the urgent question that will follow Question Time.

Daniel Kawczynski Portrait Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:49 p.m.

Will the Secretary of State acknowledge that in counties such as Shropshire, where our elderly population is growing at a disproportionate rate compared with the rest of the country, adult social care costs are going up very quickly? What steps is he going to take with the Treasury to ensure that more money is provided to enable rural shire counties such as Shropshire to deal adequately with adult social care costs?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard

I know that my hon. Friend will recognise the £650 million in additional funding that has been provided to local government for social care in 2019-20. He highlights some of the differentials around rural services, and as part of our fair funding review, we want to ensure that that is properly captured.

Mr Marcus Fysh Portrait Mr Marcus Fysh (Yeovil) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:49 p.m.

Social care needs both urgent funding and certainty from year to year, so that councils can rely upon funding packages such as those outlined by the Secretary of State. What can he do to assure us that rural councils will be properly accounted for in any business rates review?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:50 p.m.

My hon. Friend will no doubt be aware of some of the business rates retention pilots that are under way. They are a core element of our reforms. However, the whole concept of assurance for rural areas is part of our work through the fair funding review, and I appreciate the representations that he and others have made.

Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) (Lab) Parliament Live - Hansard

19. The local government funding settlement did nothing to tackle the crippling financial pressure on councils following eight years of austerity. Will the Secretary of State tell the House how he intends to respond to local authorities in 2019 when they have to choose between delivering children’s services, delivering adult social care and emptying the bins? [911372]

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:51 p.m.

This year’s funding settlement offers local councils up and down the country a real-terms increase in core funding. Equally, the additional £650 million for social care is intended to address and respond to some of the issues around those services. However, she is right about the need for further reform in the longer term, and that is what we as a Government are determined to deliver.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jun 2019, 2:51 p.m.

But back in the real world, 763 youth centres have closed, over 700 libraries have closed, Sure Start and early years services have been cut in half, and one in five children are now growing up in poverty. The legacy of this Government is a decade of neglect as local government takes the biggest hit at the altar of Tory austerity. So what is the Secretary of State most proud of: an entire sector at breaking point, or the increased inequality that his savage cuts have created?

James Brokenshire Portrait James Brokenshire -