Thank you for contacting me about levelling up housing.
Let me start by saying that I completely agree that providing high-quality, affordable homes should be central to the levelling up agenda. South Devon is in the midst of a housing crisis, with a vast number of second homes and holiday lets leading to a lack of affordable options for local people.
I am therefore glad that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is working to invest in local areas and deliver the homes our country needs. I am assured that the Government is dedicated to reforming the rental sector for tenants and landlords alike. A package of reforms is set to be outlined in an upcoming White Paper, which I understand will include measures to hold rogue landlords to account for delivering safe and decent housing without penalising good landlords. As part of this, the Government will explore the merits of a landlord register. Measures will also enhance renters’ security and improve protections for short-term tenants by abolishing ‘no-fault’ evictions.
The Government has committed to ending rough sleeping this Parliament and I am glad that encouraging progress continues to be made, with rough sleeping falling by 37 per cent in the last year alone. I recognise that some people may have concerns about the upcoming winter months, which is why I welcome a £66 million investment to help rough sleepers into safe and warm accommodation and treatment services for drug and alcohol dependency this winter.
There is also a range of support for vulnerable renters. A one-off £65 million grant is being made available to local authorities in 2021-22 to support vulnerable households who have accumulated rent arrears as a result of the pandemic. This builds on wider support for renters, such as the £140 million in funding that is available through Discretionary Housing Payments and £670 million for those struggling to pay council tax this year. Local councils will also be distributing their share of the new £500 million Household Support Fund to help vulnerable households and individuals in their local community this winter.
As we look beyond the pandemic, the real challenge has just begun. There needs to be a long-term solution to help those that have been brought in, which is why the Government is making over £750 million in funding available for 2021-22. As part of this, the largest ever investment in move-on accommodation is being made through the accelerated delivery of the £433 million Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme.
I absolutely agree that we need to increase the availability of affordable homes across the country, and it is encouraging that over 542,400 affordable homes have been delivered in the past decade. Progress continues, for example through the new £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme (2021-26) which will leverage up to £38 billion of private finance and provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, should economic conditions allow. £8.6 billion of this funding has already been allocated to councils, housing associations and private providers. This will deliver around 57,000 homes for affordable homeownership, 29,600 for social rent and 6,250 affordable rural homes.
I know the Government recognises that upgrading home energy performance is crucial if we are to meet net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across the UK economy by 2050. That is why I am glad that the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund is being launched to upgrade a significant amount of the social housing stock in England currently below Energy Performance Certificate rating C up to that standard. From 2025, the Future Homes Standard will ensure that new homes are future-proofed and produce at least 75 per cent lower CO2 emissions.
I am assured that the measures outlined above will help to level up housing in every corner of the country and create thriving places where people want to live, work and visit. I will continue to monitor this issue and will work with local councils as well as colleagues in Westminster to ensure adequate housing is available for local people.