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Written Question
Veterans: Housing
17 Mar 2021

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that veterans have equitable access to housing.

Answered by Eddie Hughes

Delivering on the Armed Forces Covenant, the Government has taken steps to ensure that serving personnel and veterans are not disadvantaged when seeking to access social housing


The law was changed in 2012 so that seriously injured, ill or disabled Service personnel, and former members of the Armed Forces, with urgent housing needs are always given ‘additional preference’ (high priority) for social housing. At the same time, regulations were introduced which ensure that serving personnel and those within 5 years of having left the forces cannot be disqualified from social housing because of a local connection or residency requirement


Both provisions also apply to seriously injured and disabled Reservists and bereaved spouses of Service personnel who are required to leave accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence


In June 2020 we published new statutory guidance for local authorities to further improve access to social housing for members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-access-to-social-housing-for-members-of-the-armed-forces . The guidance:

  • sets out how local authorities can identify applications from members of the Armed Forces community to ensure that they are considered appropriately
  • ensures that members of the Armed Forces and veterans suffering from mental ill health are given appropriate priority for social housing; and
  • makes clear that local authorities are expected to disapply any local connection requirement from divorced or separated spouses or civil partners of Service personnel who are required to move out of accommodation provided by the Ministry of Defence

We have also ensured that members of the Armed Forces have priority for government-funded shared ownership schemes. Service personnel retain their priority status for up to 24 months after service. If they die while in service, their priority can be transferred to their bereaved spouse or civil partner


In recognition of the unique nature of service to the Armed Forces, we have arranged that serving members, veterans within 5 years of leaving the services, divorced or separated spouses or civil partners of serving members, or the spouse or civil partner of a deceased member of the Armed Forces (if their death was wholly or partly caused by their service) shall not have to meet any local connection criteria in order to qualify for a First Home. This will give them the opportunity to settle in the community of their choosing


First Homes are the Government’s new home ownership scheme, designed to provide a sustained and ongoing supply of new homes sold to first-time buyers with a discount of at least 30% (in some areas, the discount could be as high as 50%). The discount will remain with the property each time it is sold and local authorities can apply additional criteria (such as a local connection test) to target specific groups with housing need.


Written Question
Shared Ownership
4 Feb 2021

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department are taking to ensure that residents in a Shared Ownership Scheme are not disadvantaged by the terms of their lease, particularly in regard to service charge increases.

Answered by Christopher Pincher

On 8 September the Government confirmed the new model for Shared Ownership. The new model has reduced the minimum share to 10 per cent, introduced 1 per cent staircasing and introduced a 10-year period during which the landlord will support with the cost of repairs on new build homes. These reforms will help to make the scheme more consumer friendly, more accessible and fairer, leading to a better experience for a future generation of shared owners.

In line with making Shared Ownership more consumer friendly, the Government believes very strongly that service charges should be transparent and communicated effectively, and that there should be a clear route to challenge or redress if things go wrong. The law is clear that service charges are payable only to the extent that costs have been reasonably incurred. In support of this, leaseholders, including shared owners, have the ability to apply to the Property Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for a determination where they do not believe the charges are reasonable.

The Government established an independent working group chaired by Lord Best to raise standards across the property sector, which also considered how fees such as service charges should be presented to consumers.  The working group published its final report to Government (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulation-of-property-agents-working-group-report) and we are considering the report’s recommendations before announcing next steps.


Written Question
Affordable Housing: South Gloucestershire
23 Oct 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the revised Joint Spatial Plan for South Gloucestershire allows the building of affordable homes in the Filton and Bradley Stoke area.

Answered by Esther McVey

Wherever possible we want to allow decisions about the future of areas to be taken locally without the involvement of central government.

Because of his quasi-judicial role in the planning system, the Secretary of State is unable to comment on the detail of local plans at examination. The authorities involved in the Joint Spatial Plan for the West of England, including South Gloucestershire, have choices to make about how they want to proceed with their plan given the recommendation from their Planning Inspectors that it should be withdrawn. The policies in any revised plan will be locally determined and will then be assessed by independent Inspectors for their soundness.

The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that housing needed for different groups in the community should be assessed and reflected in planning policies, including making sufficient provision for affordable housing.

The government is committed to increasing the supply of social housing and has delivered over 430,000 affordable homes since 2010. We have made £9 billion available through the Affordable Homes Programme to March 2022 to deliver approximately 250,000 new affordable homes of a wide range of tenures, including at least 12,500 for social rent.

On 18 September 2018 we announced an additional £2 billion of long term funding certainty for housing associations. This extra funding will deliver more affordable homes and stimulate the sector’s wider building ambitions, through strategic partnerships.

On 27 June 2019, we opened bidding on £1 billion of this funding through Homes England.



Written Question
Affordable Housing: South Gloucestershire
8 Oct 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what steps he is taking to ensure that the revised Joint Spatial Plan for South Gloucestershire will not effect the building of affordable homes in the Filton and Bradley Stoke area.

Answered by Esther McVey

It has not proved possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.


Written Question
Planning: Public Consultation
7 Oct 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what plans his Department has for speeding up the planning process for large developments whilst ensuring adequate consultation with affected local residents.

Answered by Esther McVey

At Spring Statement, government announced that MHCLG will be publishing an Accelerated Planning Green Paper. The Green Paper will look at how greater capacity and capability within local planning authorities, better performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process for all, while protecting and strengthening the role that communities play in new development that comes forward. The Green Paper will be published later this year.


Written Question
Multiple Occupation: Planning
4 Oct 2019

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of local authorities using the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 Article 4 powers to restrict the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation in defined areas.

Answered by Esther McVey

Under a national permitted development right, a private house is able to change use to a House in Multiple Occupation for up to six people sharing facilities without the need for a planning application. Change of use to a larger House in Multiple Occupation requires an application for planning permission.

Where there is sufficient evidence that it is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of a specific area, a local planning authority may withdraw a permitted development right using an Article 4 direction. This would mean any change of use to a House in Multiple Occupation for up to six people sharing facilities would also require an application for planning permission. It will be for the local planning authority to consult on and consider the merits of such an approach, using local evidence on a case by case basis.


Written Question
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Apprentices
17 May 2018

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what levels of apprenticeships are offered by his Department; and how many apprenticeship starts there were at each level in each of the last three years.

Answered by Jake Berry

The Department had 67 apprenticeship starts at the following levels in each of the last three years:

Year & Subject Type

Level 3

Level 4

Grand Total

2015/16

4

6

10

Business Administration

4

6

10

2016/17

9

26

35

Business Administration

0

25

25

Finance

0

1

1

Management

9

0

9

2017/18

0

22

22

Business Administration

0

20

20

Finance

0

1

1

Project Delivery

0

1

1

Total

13

54

67

The Department currently employs 43 diverse and talented apprentices working right across the organisation in policy, admin and PA support roles. Most are studying towards a Level 4 qualification in business administration, though we also have apprentices working towards finance and project delivery qualifications. This time next year we will be welcoming the very first batch of policy officer apprentices which is a brand new apprenticeship that MHCLG helped design. We are also expecting to welcome our first Cyber and Digital apprentices next year, and offer a range of apprenticeships to existing staff including the Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree apprenticeship.


Written Question
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government: Land
8 Feb 2018

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, how much land (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies owns in (i) England and (ii) the South West; and how much of that land has been identified as being surplus to requirements.

Answered by Jake Berry

The UK Government is a significant landowner. The current Government Estate Strategy sets out the Government's vision to create an efficient, fit-for-purpose and sustainable estate whose performance matches the best of the private sector. As a Government we are delivering this vision, ensuring that the estate is fit for purpose, is frequently reviewed and aligned to the Estate Strategy, and is managed in an efficient and effective way.

The current landholdings of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are shown in the table below. This does not include land previously identified as surplus that has now been disposed. The information is correct at time of publication.

Land in hectares

England

South West

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

1.01

0.00

QE2 Conference Centre

0.37

0.00

Homes England

7,341.54

252.94

Total

7,342.92

252.94

Of the total land the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government holds in England, 281 hectares is currently available, out of which 2.06 hectares are in the South West. These figures include agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

The role of Homes England is to trade in land to facilitate delivery of new homes. Most of the land listed in the table above will therefore be made available in due course. Homes England publishes a Land Development and Disposal Plan, which lists the sites that are likely to be available for development and/or disposal over a 12 month period: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/land-development-and-disposal-plan


Written Question
Land Use
7 Feb 2018

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 30 January 2018 to Question 124559, on Planning Permission, if the he will take steps to (a) produce a register of all land in England and Wales owned by development companies which has neither building work ongoing nor planning permission granted nor approved, (b) make that register public and (c) provide the House with regular updates as to his Department's progress in reducing the amount of land on that register; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Dominic Raab

We have no such plans at present.

Local authorities are already required to publish registers of brownfield land suitable for housing. The registers include information relating to the ownership and planning status of land on the register. Local authorities are also required to publish planning registers containing details of all planning applications which are under consideration or which have been agreed.

In the Autumn Budget 2017, the Government also announced it will develop a central register of residential planning permissions from local authorities to improve information on where permissions are held and progress towards them being built out.

The Government's Housing white Paper sets out a wide ranging approach to driving up build out of planning permissions. In addition, the Autumn Budget 2017 included the announcement of a review of build-out chaired by Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP. The review will consider the significant gap between housing completions, and the amount of planning permissions and land allocated for housing. The review panel will make recommendations for closing this gap, and will report on its findings in 2018.


Written Question
Planning Permission
30 Jan 2018

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what estimate his Department has made of the area of land (a) nationally and (b) within the South West which is owned by building firms and has (i) no pending planning applications and (ii) had planning permission granted but upon which no building has commenced.

Answered by Dominic Raab

No such estimates have been made.


Written Question
Travellers: Caravan Sites
25 Sep 2017

Questioner: Jack Lopresti (CON - Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what assessment he makes of the adequacy of the number of transit pitches made available to Travellers in (a) England and (b) South Gloucestershire.

Answered by Alok Sharma

The Government has made no such estimates. It is the responsibility of local authorities to assess all local housing needs through their local plan.