Sheffield MP calls for more low-cost homes to be built

Worried: MP Clive Betts.

Worried: MP Clive Betts.

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A SHEFFIELD MP has called for a huge rise in the number of affordable houses - after revealing just two were built in the city last year.

Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts called for an ‘assurance’ that more lower-priced and social rented housing is built - as well as a dramatic increase in the total number of new homes to address a shortage.

In a Parliamentary debate about Government plans to change planning laws to ‘stimulate’ house building, Mr Betts said: “The crisis is that we should be building 250,000 homes a year, but we are building 100,000 - and the number is falling.

“The average age of first-time buyers is rising, waiting lists for social housing are rising, rents are rising, homelessness is rising, and the number of houses we are building is falling. In my definition, that is a crisis.”

Mr Betts called for the Government to help councils and housing associations to borrow more money to build homes.

He said: “Of course, we ought to support attempts by housing associations and local authorities to borrow in the retail markets, but a housing investment bank to build the money in the private sector and connect it with those who want to investment would be another major step forward that the Government could get involved in.”

Mr Betts added: “Last year, in my own city of Sheffield, we built two affordable homes.”

He said Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith and Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield and he could ‘let those homes to completely deserving cases in the first half hour of any surgery we hold. That is the scale of the problem.”

The Government responded that its proposals to relax planning laws would ‘stimulate’ housebuilding.

But Mr Betts argued: “How can we have any assurance the number of affordable houses being built will increase when there is not a single mention here of local authorities building homes?”

Sheffield Council said it is hoping to address the city’s shortage of affordable homes by building 2,000 properties on empty and derelict sites in the next few years.

Developments at Parson Cross, Norfolk Park and Shirecliffe to create a few hundred of the homes have already received planning permission.