Bishop of Chester asks Government about social effects of fall in house prices


ChesterOn 7th February 2017, Lord Bourne gave a statement to the House on the publication of the Government’s new White Paper on housing. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a question about falling house prices.

The Lord Bishop of Chester My Lords, I want to ask about the politics of all this. I speak as a fool in relation to that, but let us take the hypothesis that this policy is a great success, that we have lots more houses and that the price of houses starts to fall. Indeed, let us imagine that land prices start to fall in the way that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, rightly pointed out. All the people who have bought houses in the past 20 years will find that those houses are worth less than they used to be. It seems to me that this is tinkering with a major problem. Do the Government seriously wish to get the average value of a house back down to 3.5 times average earnings? If so, what are the consequences going to be? Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans welcomes Government White Paper on housing; asks about rural homes


stalbans190117On 7th February 2017, Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth made a statement to the House of Lords on the publication of the Government’s new White Paper on housing. The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, responded, welcoming the report and asking about the Government’s plans to develop rural housing.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans My Lords, on these Benches we are acutely aware of the huge crisis in housing. We hear stories about this from all around the country and we share some of the concerns that have been raised from the Benches opposite. There are a number of things which we welcome hugely. Examples are the new powers for local authorities to prevent land banking, measures to encourage local authorities to work together over larger areas, and new requirements for local authorities to undertake a more thorough assessment of housing needs. Continue reading

Archbishop of York speaks on importance of building communities as well as homes


On 24th January 2017 Labour Peer Baroness Andrews moved “That the Grand Committee takes note of the Report from the Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment (Session 2015–16, HL Paper 100).” The Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, spoke in the debate, highlighting the need not only for new homes but for community resources too:

york-170117The Archbishop of York: My Lords, it is essential that more homes are built to support the population of the United Kingdom. Parliament’s own publication estimates that a minimum of 230,000 new homes need to be built each year, a level of building not sustained since the 1970s, and two to three times above the current levels of supply. Some 81,000 households were estimated to be homeless or in temporary accommodation in 2013-14. It is young people in their late teens and 20s who are most unable to afford rents, particularly in the private sector. The gap between average household income and house price continues to rise, further reducing affordability for many households. Therefore, as affordable new-build housing is essential, the quality and effort put into designing the living environment and communal space becomes even more important. Continue reading

Archbishop of York supports Neighbourhood Planning Bill


york-170117-cOn 17th January 2017, the Government’s Neighbourhood Planning Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Lords. The Archbishop of York, Most Revd and Rt Hon John Sentamu, spoke to express his support for the broad principles of the Bill.

The Archbishop of York My Lords, I hope I will not abuse the great privilege you have given me by allowing me, as the 24th speaker, to speak in the gap.

I support the Bill because of the three areas it covers: neighbourhood planning, local development plans and compulsory purchase. Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about situation of homeless migrants


St Albans 2On the 21st December 20165, Lord Shipley asked the Government “what is their latest estimate of the number of people who will be homeless or living in temporary accommodation over the Christmas period”. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the Housing Justice Night Shelter IMPACT report, which was published this week? It found that of those in night shelters, 14% or roughly 268 were migrants with no recourse to public funds, support or indeed, of course, housing. Will the Minister tell the House what the Government are doing to speed up the process of resolving these difficult cases, which are causing such anxiety and suffering?

Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about support for rural affordable housing


St AlbansOn 15th December 2016 Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of the availability of affordable housing on the ability of both private and public sector organisations to recruit and retain staff.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the lack of affordable housing in recruiting local workers is also felt acutely in many rural areas. Rural exemption sites have proved a good way of providing affordable housing, but with the uncertainty over the recent extension of right to buy, some landowners are reluctant to bring forward land. In light of this, will Her Majesty’s Government publish clear guidelines on the potential for restrictive covenants on rural exemption sites to provide affordable housing in perpetuity for local workers? Continue reading

Bishop of St Albans asks Government about funding for rural and coastal homes


St Albans 2On 8th December 2016 Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty’s Government “whether they intend to give powers to local authorities to prevent the further loss of long-term residential accommodation resulting from increases in short-term holiday lets.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, back in July the Minister kindly wrote to me to reassure me that the promised £60 million fund to enable rural and coastal communities to provide accommodation for local people was still on course, despite it having been delayed following the events in June. It is nearly 2017 and I do not think we have heard any more about that fund. Can the Minister assure your Lordships’ House that the scheme is still on course? When will the money be made available for those communities suffering most from second-home ownership? Continue reading