Sarah Newton is the Member of Parliament for Truro and Falmouth. Her article is the fifth in a seven part series of articles by Conservative MPs, each discussing the Coalition's policies to get more people into good homes.
Now is the time to be focusing on building new homes - especially for people earning modest incomes. A decent home at a fair price to rent or buy is a distant dream for too many people. Housebuilding plummeted under Labour, so it is not surprising that local authority waiting lists soared by 80%, to nearly 2 million people, between 1997 and 2010.
Every week, young families and elderly people come to my advice surgery for help in finding a decent place to call home. New powers in the Localism Act will enable communities to work with their local authorities to develop Neighbourhood Plans that meet the needs of each community including for new homes or making better use of existing buildings. No two villages, towns or cities are the same, and each community needs a ‘grass roots’ plan for its area.
As Chairman of the Steering Group of the Truro & Kenwyn Neighbourhood Plan, I am seeing first-hand how parish and Cornwall councillors are seizing the new opportunities of working together and with residents to shape the future of their place.
Like any other middle-aged mum, I am worried about how our children are going to afford somewhere decent to live, while at the same time thinking about the future housing needs of our elderly parents. The Housing Strategy starts to tackle these concerns. Scaling up the recent growth we have seen in housebuilding - under the Coalition, new starts in 2010-11 are up 29 per cent compared to 2008-09 - will also be an important source of new jobs, many of them for young people.