§ Mr. Harry Greenway
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to prevent housing associations from buying new commercially built property; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Baldry
We have no plans to prevent housing associations from buying new commercially built property, providing such property offers good value for money in addressing local housing needs.
As part of the £750 million package to boost the housing market in the United Kingdom, which was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the autumn statement, £580 million was made available to the Housing Corporation to enable housing associations to purchase new, empty and repossessed properties in England.
The proportion of new properties bought so far is high, but this is because these are the deals which can be completed most quickly. The corporation expects the proportion of private treaty and repossession sales to increase significantly. All purchases will reduce the current over-supply of homes on the market and so have a beneficial effect in stabilising prices and stimulating confidence.
I am delighted with the rapid progress of the package so far, which has seen 11,812 purchases approved by 22 January. I congratulate the Housing Corporation and the housing associations involved.