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Peers crank up the ante on starter homes as bill grinds through the Lords

Published: Thursday, 10th March 2016

The government was warned this week that starter homes in London would be inaccessible to between 70 and 80 per cent of private renters.

And in most of the country, those on low incomes will not be in a position to benefit from the initiative.

That was the stark message highlighted in the Upper Chamber where the administration’s flagship Housing and Planning bill is being scrutinised line by line.

The messenger was crossbencher Lord Bob Kerslake the former permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government who quoted figures from the latest assessment produced by housing pressure group Shelter.

The peer stressed: “these figures put it beyond doubt that, at least in London, those who will benefit from this gift are a very small proportion of private renters”.

Peers on all sides are frustrated that the government has not yet published the secondary legislation and draft regulations that will flesh out the starter home regime.

Government minister Baroness Williams of Trafford has been unable so far to promise that these will be published by the time the legislation reaches Report Stage in the Lords.

During exchanges last week, though, she did promise that the department would “bring forward” a technical consultation on the bill’s Clause 4 which sets out the requirement for the provision of starter homes in residential development.

“The consultation will recognise that there are some developments where the inclusion of starter homes could help to secure a diversity of tenures and support mixed communities, but that compulsory inclusion could alter the viability [of some regeneration schemes]“ she explained.

View the latest news on the progress of the Housing and Planning bill

Roger Milne