Bishop of St Albans letter to Times on need for more affordable rural housing

On 20th September 2017 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, was a signatory to a letter to The Times newspaper about affordable rural housing:

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Sir, A thriving countryside needs more good quality, genuinely affordable homes (“Country Unfair”, leading article, Sep 19). Only one in ten homes in rural areas is classed as affordable, compared with one in five in urban areas. The proportion of new affordable homes is shrinking, and rural areas face a significant shortfall over the next five years. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans letter to Times on need for more affordable rural housing”

Bishop of St Albans asks Government when housing strategy will be implemented

On 14th September 2017 the Bishop of St Albans asked a question he had tabled to Government about the Government’s housing strategy. His question and follow-up are below, as are the follow up questions from other Members of the House:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to implement the recommendations contained in the Housing White Paper, Fixing our broken housing market.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government and Northern Ireland Office (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth) (Con): My Lords, housing is a priority for this Government. We are committed to ensuring radical and lasting reform to get homes built now and in future, and are delivering the changes needed to make that happen. For example, we have already launched a £2.3 billion ​fund, which we committed to in the White Paper, to provide essential infrastructure to support up to 100,000 new homes.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the consultation on the housing White Paper was published on 2 May and, as we know, it contained urgently needed measures to address the critical shortfall of housing here in the UK. When does the Minister expect the results of that consultation to be ready, and when can we expect a revised National Planning Policy Framework? Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government when housing strategy will be implemented”

Bishop of St Albans raises need for affordable housing in rural areas

On 2nd March 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Hollick “That this House takes note of the Report from the Economic Affairs Committee, Building More Homes (1st Report, HL Paper 20).” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in the debate:

stalbans190117-bThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, my thanks go to the noble Lord, Lord Hollick, for tabling this Motion and giving us the opportunity to discuss the Building More Homes report. I am grateful also for the contributions from a number of members of the Economic Affairs Committee, which have been both helpful and enlightening. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans raises need for affordable housing in rural areas”

Bishop of Newcastle on importance of building homes, communities, not just houses

On 2nd March 2017 the House of Lords debated a motion from Lord Hollick “That this House takes note of the Report from the Economic Affairs Committee, Building More Homes (1st Report, HL Paper 20).” The Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, spoke in the debate:

Newcastle 2The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, I warmly welcome this excellent report from the Economic Affairs Committee. My conversations with local authorities, housing associations and chamber of commerce colleagues in the north-east have endorsed the power of its analysis. The report demonstrates the complexity and long-standing dysfunctionality of the housing market with a terrifying clarity. Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle on importance of building homes, communities, not just houses”

Bishop of Southwark supports Homelessness Reduction Bill

On 24th February 2017 the House of Lords considered the Homelessness Reduction Bill, a Private Member’s Bill from Lord Best and Bob Blackman MP. The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in support:

SouthwarkThe Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, in common with the sentiments already expressed, I strongly support this Bill with its emphasis on the reduction of homelessness. Like others, I am heartened by the cross-party work that has been done, not least by the Government, to bring this important legislation to this point. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Best, on his sponsorship of the Bill and, in another place, Mr Bob Blackman, the Member for Harrow East. I trust that we will expedite matters at all stages of the Bill and fully endorse what was said by my friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Rochester. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark supports Homelessness Reduction Bill”

Bishop of Rochester supports Homelessness Reduction Bill

On 24th February 2017 the House of Lords considered the Homelessness Reduction Bill, a Private Member’s Bill from Lord Best and Bob Blackman MP. The Bishop of Rochester, Rt Revd James Langstaff, spoke in support:

RochesterThe Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I declare my interest as the chair of the organisation Housing Justice and thank the noble Lord, Lord Best, for his sponsorship of this Bill in your Lordships’ House. I also add my thanks to Bob Blackman, the Member for Harrow East, for his initiative in bringing forward the Bill in the other place. Before turning to the specifics of the Bill, I will echo the final points made by the noble Lord about the connection between the wider issues of housing supply and housing finance and the sharper end of homelessness which we see on our streets and in other manifestations. It would be such a tragedy if some of those wider matters were not tackled and frustrated the good intentions of this Bill. Continue reading “Bishop of Rochester supports Homelessness Reduction Bill”

Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Archbishop of York supports amendment on new towns

york-170117-cOn 23rd February the House of Lords considered the Government’s Neighbourhood Planning Bill at Report Stage. The Archbishop of York, Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu spoke in support of an amendment from Baroness Parminter on new towns. Baroness Parminter said “The amendment introduces the principle of localism to the New Towns Act to enable the delivery of the highest quality new garden villages and towns by locally accountable elected local planning authorities rather than, as at present, any such development corporation being established on the initiative of a local authority and agreed by the Secretary of State”. The amendment was withdrawn after debate and following assurances from Government.

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, I spoke at Second Reading about building flourishing communities, not just houses, and emphasised the contribution of affordable housing and green spaces to communal life. If land has been compulsorily purchased, surely the powers need to be given back to the local community to decide what kind of housing will go there. The Government have been very good at taking measures to increase the supply of affordable housing. However, the number of completed social rented homes has decreased from just under 40,000 in 2010-11 to just 6,550 in 2015-16, and affordable housing completions more generally, including other tenures, are at the lowest level for 24 years. The recent government housing White Paper showed a greater focus on homes to rent and it is important that that includes genuinely affordable social homes to rent, which is the only affordable housing tenure suitable for those on the lowest incomes. Continue reading “Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Archbishop of York supports amendment on new towns”