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

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

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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 Southwark supports Homelessness Reduction Bill

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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 Rochester supports Homelessness Reduction Bill

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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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