House of Commons 15 July 2010

Written Ministerial Statements (Communities & Local Government)




The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Eric Pickles):


This statement provides a Government response in relation to the following reports:

East Midlands Regional Committee inquiry into "Does the East Midlands get a Fair Share of Funding" published 26 March 2010 (HC 104-I, Session 2009-2010).

South East Regional Committee inquiry into "Housing in the South East" published on 7 April 2010 (HC 403, Session 2009-2010).

West Midlands Regional Committee inquiry into "Planning for the Future: Housing and Economic Development in the West Midlands" published 8 April 2010 (HC 421, Session 2009-2010).

West Midlands Regional Committee inquiry into "Making the Voice of the West Midlands heard: the Work of the Committee, and the future for the Region" published 8 April 2010 (HC 528, Session 2009-2010).

The dissolution of Parliament in April 2010 did not allow sufficient time for a formal Government response to be sent to these Committees, which following a statement made by the Leader of the House on 26 May 2010 will not be re-enacted.

The Government's response

The Committees' reports were written against the backcloth of the previous administration's priorities. The creation of the coalition Government has meant that the policy context has changed significantly for some issues, which the Committees have highlighted. "The Coalition: our programme for government", outlines the Government's position on these and other relevant issues. As a consequence the Government do not intend to respond in detail to each of the recommendations. The Government acknowledge the reports of each of the Committees and thank the Committee members and witnesses for their contributions.

The South East Regional Committee report-Housing in the South East.

The Government share the Committee's conclusion that housing is crucial to the well-being of the economy and population of south east England. They further believe that development is necessary if it is to help people meet their aspirations to own their homes. That is why the Government intend to provide incentives for local authorities to deliver sustainable development, including for new homes and businesses.

The Government do not agree however that an appropriate level of development is best achieved through the use of Whitehall-imposed targets, a belief which underpins many of the report's conclusions and recommendations. That is why we are taking steps to abolish regional strategies and regional housing targets. The Government believe that, rather than their prescribing the number and location of homes or requiring reviews of the green belt where there is no local desire to do so, local people in villages, towns and cities should be able to develop their own vision for the places in which they live. It is committed to working with local people to achieve this by, for example, enhancing community involvement in drawing up local plans, allowing local authorities to benefit financially when they facilitate new housing and enabling community-owned local housing trusts.