Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, speaking at Conservative Party Conference at The ICC, Birmingham said:
Today I want to talk to you about housing.
It’s a huge issue for our country …
… and it’s one that our new Prime Minister is determined to do something about.
As your new Communities Secretary, this is my number one priority.
But before I talk about that, I want to start by paying tribute to many of you in this room …
… our excellent Conservative councillors and local leaders.
Working at DCLG, I am more aware than ever of the huge amount of work you do.
You are often the unsung heroes.
You give up your time, your sleep, your shoe leather…
Sometimes it must feel like you’re giving up your sanity!
And you do it not because you seek riches or rewards, but because you want to make your community a better place.
Well I want you to know that I recognise the hard work you do and I appreciate it enormously………Thank you.
I’d also like to thank my brilliant ministerial team:
Gavin Barwell, Marcus Jones, Andrew Percy & Nick Bourne, and our superb PPS’s Rebecca Harris and Rebecca Pow – thank you for all you do.
Over two months ago, Theresa May, gave her first speech as Prime Minister outside 10 Downing Street.
She made it clear that our priority as Conservatives must be to ensure that Britain is a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone of us.
She is absolutely right.
And if we truly want to achieve this, then building more homes is critical.
The first house I remember living in was 107 East Street, Bedminster, Bristol.
Well, I call it a house.
It was really just a small flat above my parents’ shop.
All seven of us – me, mum, dad and my four brothers – squeezed into two bedrooms.
A while back a charity worker told me in a Select Committee that, by modern standards, I was “homeless”.
Anyway, my point is that having a safe, secure home is so important.
It’s not just a place to rest your head.
It’s a place to live your life.
A place to call your own.
Over the last six years we’ve made a lot of progress.
My predecessors at DCLG – Sir Eric Pickles and Greg Clarke – did a huge amount of work.
Massive investment in housing.
A wholesale reform of the planning process.
Right to Buy for housing association tenants and so much more.
And the results are there for all to see.
* Annual housing starts have gone up some 30 per cent.
* Almost 300,000 affordable homes have been provided in England.
* More than 330,000 households have benefited from schemes like Help to Buy and Right to Buy.
And we have doubled the housing budget to more than £20 billion over the next five years!
That money is allowing us to embark upon the largest Government backed house-building programme since the 1970s.
So I’d like to pay tribute to my predecessors for all the hard work they did.
But let’s be honest with ourselves…there’s still a long, long way to go.
Far too many young people can’t get a foot on the housing ladder.
Many are being forced to live back with mum and dad, as rents soar faster than wages.
Here in Birmingham, in 1997 the average house price was around 3 times the average income.
Last year it was more than 5 times.
One and a half million households contain at least one adult who says he or she wants to buy or rent their own home …
… but simply can’t afford to do so.
Harold MacMillan put it best, more than 90 years ago:
“Housing is not a question of conservatism or socialism,” he said.
“It’s a question of humanity.”
Tackling this housing shortfall isn’t about political expediency.
It’s a moral duty.
And it’s one that falls on all of us.
Not just in Parliament, but in business, in local government and in our communities.
I’m not afraid to stand up and say that this country has not built enough homes.
We’ve got to be honest about it.
In the last year of full records, we managed to deliver more than 170,000 additional properties across England.
It’s a not a bad number but it’s far fewer than we need.
We need to do much better.
Everyone agrees we need to build more homes.
But too many of us object to them being built next to us.
We’ve got to change that attitude.
So my message today is very clear: it’s time to get building.
The big developers must release their stranglehold on supply.
It’s time to stop sitting on landbanks, delaying build-out: the homebuyers must come first.
Almost 280,000 planning permissions were issued over the last twelve months …
… I want to see each and every one of those homes built as soon as possible.
Local leaders must be prepared to make difficult calls, even if they’re unpopular.
And so must MPs and councillors.
Of course, there are valid reasons to oppose some planning applications.
If they’re in the wrong place, or there’s not enough infrastructure, or they’re just plain ugly …
But all of us have a duty to think about the long-term consequences of every decision we make.
As elected representatives, we are here to take the right decisions – not the easy ones.
Ultimately, we have a responsibility to build more houses.
A responsibility, not just to our constituents, but to the next generation.
It is for that reason that we are going to take unprecedented steps to open up the market.
First, today we are opening a massive £3 billion Home Builders Fund.
This major package will help us build more than 225,000 new homes and will create thousands of jobs up and down the country.
It will help us get more SMEs building, encourage custom-builders, and allow developers to build the infrastructure needed to support new housing.
Second, we will pilot a new initiative: Accelerated Construction on public land.
We will take Government-owned land and partner with contractors and investors to speed up housebuilding.
We will create new supply chains using offsite construction.
And we will encourage new models of building to make houses that people want, more cheaply and at pace.
These measures will allow us to get started on 15,000 homes by 2020.
We will get more homes built, more quickly.
Third, we will bring forward a package of measures to encourage urban regeneration and to build on brownfield land.
We want to radically increase brownfield development and bring life back to abandoned sites.
That means delivering high quality housing for families, bringing new energy to our high streets and town centres …
… abandoned shopping centres being transformed into new communities …
… and increasing density of housing around stations to build homes that people want to live in.
These three initiatives are just the beginning.
We will publish a Housing White Paper later this year, with further significant measures …
… all helping us towards our ambition for a million new homes by 2020.
But, this is action here and now.
And it shows we mean business.
We are a party that is willing to take difficult decisions, make the hard calls, in order to build a better Britain for everyone.
If we choose popularity over progress today, we are betraying the voters of tomorrow.
But we need to remember that it’s not simply houses we’re building.
It’s places for people to live, to grow, to raise a family.
We’re not just putting roofs over heads, we’re creating communities.
And that’s why it’s so important that as we build these communities we don’t just impose our will from Westminster.
That’s why I’m proud to be continuing with our ambitious devolution agenda.
Having elected Mayors will help put power firmly in the hands of local people, exactly where it belongs.
And there can be no better candidate right here in the West Midlands, than our very own Andy Street.
Congratulations on your nomination, Andy – we’re backing you every step of the way!
Andy is the perfect candidate, because he understands the local area, the local economy and local communities.
Labour, on the other hand, don’t have a clue what communities are all about.
And they don’t support home ownership.
And they certainly are not capable of getting the houses we need built.
Let’s look at their record:
Under Labour, housebuilding fell to levels not seen since the 1920s!
Under Labour, in one twelve month period, just 75,000 houses were started.
Under Labour, average house prices almost doubled compared to average wages.
The truth is, under Labour, targets were missed, waiting lists grew longer and more and more homes stood empty…
… And they have the audacity to lecture us about housing policy!
But there’s a difference between them and us.
They want a society that’s dependent on the state, rather than a state that serves society.
That’s why they’ve always opposed the Right to Buy.
Of course, it’s very easy to dismiss home ownership as a bourgeois aspiration from the comfort of your multi-million-pound Islington townhouse.
Emily Thornberry, remember her?
The champagne socialist Shadow Foreign Secretary who cringes when she sees the English flag?
She already owns at least three houses, worth nearly £4 million in total.
And yet she wants to stop working people from owning the homes that they’ve grown up in, raised families in and want to grow old in.
The hypocrisy is quite something.
But you have to remember that Labour are the party of dependence.
They always have been.
They always will be.
So I say to all Conservatives – let’s get Britain building.
Let’s build the houses that the people of Britain deserve today.
Let’s build the homes that our children and grandchildren will need tomorrow.
Let’s build on the legacy of Macmillan and Thatcher.
Under our Prime Minister, Theresa May, let’s build the houses we need to ensure that Britain is a country that works for everyone.