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Westminster Column - Helping people buy a home

May I wish all my constituents in the Royal Town a peaceful, healthy and happy 2018. This year must be a year of delivery both locally and nationally. Nor should we forget the many challenges which face us internationally and where Britain has the influence and opportunity to make the world a better place.

As parents, we all want our children to have the same opportunities that we have had. Indeed, it is the hope of every parent that their children’s lives will be better than theirs. It was always an unspoken rule that life should be better for each generation than the generation that preceded it. But house prices have risen so much that the average home now costs almost 8 times average earnings. This is a situation that has to be rectified.

Let’s be clear, the UK’s housing needs has not been sufficiently addressed for almost 40 years. This Government has done quite a bit to ease the housing crisis and will certainly be judged by how competently it continues to do so.

Changes to stamp duty, announced in the Autumn Budget, are a welcome measure which has already helped thousands onto the housing ladder and enabled them to get the security of owning their own home - abolishing stamp duty altogether for first-time buyer purchases up to £300,000. This means 80 per cent of all first-time buyers will pay no stamp duty at all and over a million first-time buyers are set to benefit in total over the next five years.

This is in addition to a raft of other measures, including the help to buy scheme (which has helped over 275,000 first time buyers) and starter homes which are built exclusively for first time buyers between 23 and 40 years old, at a discount of at least 20 per cent below market value. Yet it is painfully obvious that there remains much, much more to be done.

There is no doubt that greater housebuilding must remain central to the Government’s strategy. But the Government must also ensure that new homes in the right place and maintain (indeed regain) the commitment to protecting the Green Belt. I have been consistent in supporting amendments to Green Belt boundaries when local authorities show that they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting housing requirements.

Here in our Royal Town, I have recently met with both the developers in the Langley Consortium and Birmingham City Council’s Development Planning Manager to make clear that the local Conservative group in Royal Sutton Coldfield will be seeking to maximise the benefit to existing local residents as well as ensuring high quality new sustainable facilities for incoming residents.

In championing the Royal Town in this respect, we are greatly assisted by the work of our Conservative Councillors on Birmingham City Council and, of course, by the very important input from our Royal Town Council.

This means key infrastructure projects should be a clear priority such as for new schools and health facilities as well as traffic/transport arrangements which I know to be a worrying issue for many of my constituents. We will continue to work in the best interests of the local community to ensure that Sutton Coldfield has significant input and control of these developments.

It is our mission to build the homes the country needs so we can restore the dream of home ownership for people up and down the UK. Equally, developers must do their duty to Britain and build the sustainable homes and facilities our country needs - in the right places.

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