On 2nd July 2019 Lord Evans of Watford asked the Government “what steps they are taking to increase the number of homes for social rent”. The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for his point about social housing delivery. He is right that it has been a challenge for successive Governments. We have delivered 79,000 social homes since 2010, which, it has to be said, is better than the numbers achieved in the previous nine years. In relation to his point about garden villages, we had previously announced 29 and last week we announced another 19. That is significant. It includes providing a special community village for dementia-friendly housing, which again is very good news, and I hope that that will also feed into the discussions that we are having about modern methods of construction.
The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, I welcome very much that last answer. In that connection I declare an interest, in that I have set up a commission to look into the housing crisis and the contribution that can be made by civil society and particularly the Churches. It comprises a former Permanent Secretary and a huge number of significant experts. One of the commission’s earliest priorities is to look at how we create communities rather than simply build houses. That means that there is a need for multipurpose community facilities and for looking at the sociological aspects as well as the mere physical construction. Will the Minister undertake to listen to the representations from that and similar inquiries over the next 18 months to two years?
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth: I thank the most reverend Primate very much for that contribution and I certainly give that undertaking. It is not just a question of putting up more housing; it is very important that we create or build on effective communities with the additional housing that we are looking at. That is a challenge. It is at the heart of the garden towns and villages programme and we want to carry that forward.