Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017.
Last Wednesday, Richard led a parliamentary debate on the extension of Right to Buy for housing association tenants in Bedford and Kempston.
Richard urged the Minister to fulfil the government’s manifesto pledge to remove the unfairness in law that denies housing association tenants, like those of BPHA, the right to buy their home.
Richard said: “I called this debate in Parliament as a number of local residents have contacted me asking when they will be allowed to purchase their housing association home. This is a popular policy among local residents and I wanted to pass on that enthusiasm to the Housing Minister and ensure the towns of Bedford and Kempston are a priority for future pilots.”
In answering Richard, the Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to the policy stating that it is ‘not only about helping people who live in housing association accommodation to….buy the home they live in; it is also a pro-supply policy, because it guarantees that the housing association will provide an additional home with some of the income from the sale of a property’.
The Minister added that he was pleased with the results of the initial pilot schemes and welcomed the Chancellor’s commitment to fund a larger regional pilot, which will allow about 3,000 families to buy their own home stressing that these pilots were important to test key areas of the policy.
Richard pressed the Minister to confirm Bedford as the next pilot area for the scheme, adding that the largest housing association in Bedford, Bedford Pilgrim Housing Association (BPHA) ‘is a strong supporter of the voluntary right to buy, because it sees the benefit in encouraging home ownership as well as the financial benefit to build more good-quality, low-cost housing that people can rent or, ultimately have the right to buy.’
The Minister agreed to pass on Richard’s enthusiasm for Bedford and Kempston to host a pilot scheme to both the Secretary of State and the Treasury.
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, attended the Second Reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill in Parliament today, which was passed by the House of Commons with Government support. The Bill will ensure that local authorities provide homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who are protected under existing legislation. It will also legally require local authorities to introduce measures to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
Richard backed the Bill to reduce homelessness, continuing his work with national and local homeless charities such as the King’s Arms Project in Bedford.
Speaking from the House for Commons, Richard said: “This Bill aims to prevent people from losing their homes through early intervention and cross agency support and helps those who are not currently considered a priority under current legislation. At the moment, if you don’t have dependent children or you can’t prove that you are particularly vulnerable, your local authority has no legal obligation to offer you help.”
The Bill places a prevention duty on local authorities to help anyone who is eligible and at risk of homelessness to secure accommodation, 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness regardless of their priority need status. It also creates a new duty for councils to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation. The Bill will also ensure that other local services refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams.
The passing of the Bill, proposed by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, follows a Government commitment to provide a £40 million fund to prevent homelessness and help those on the streets with the most complex needs.
Richard Fuller has welcomed the latest figures which show the country is building again, with housing starts and completions at a seven year high.
The figures show there were 930 starts and 910 completions of new homes in Bedford Borough in 2015. Building more houses means that more people in Bedford and Kempton can achieve their dream of owning their own home.
The Government is going further than ever before, reforming the planning system, fast-tracking house building and investing in schemes like Help to Buy and is determined to do even more to achieve the ambition of 1 million new homeowners by 2021. The Government will continue to support small builders, build new affordable Starter Homes for young first-time buyers and build homes faster with planning permission in principle for brownfield sites.
“These figures show that the reforms to the planning system are working and builders are confident to invest and build new homes. The Government is determined to go even further and has doubled the housing budget to over £2 billion a year so more people in towns like Bedford and Kempston can have the security that comes with a home of their own.”
Richard Fuller is encouraging first time buyers to take advantage of this tax year’s ISA allowance by starting a Help to Buy ISA – a new Government-backed savings account designed to help people saving for a deposit on their first home.
First time buyers can now open a Help to Buy ISA, which the Government will top up by 25 per cent up to a maximum of £3,000. For example, by saving £200 a month, the Government will add £50 up to a maximum of £3,000, boosting ISA savings of £12,000 to £15,000.
As with a traditional cash ISA, first time buyers will also earn interest on their savings, which will be free of both income and capital gains tax. The accounts are available to each first time buyer, not each household, which means a couple buying a property together could receive a government bonus of up to £6,000 towards their first home.
Richard said: “First time buyers trying to save for a deposit, deserve support. The Government-backed Help to Buy ISA demonstrates its continuing support for first time buyers in Bedford and Kempston.”
For more information visit: http://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/help-to-buy-isa.
Richard has welcomed the news that the Housing and Planning Bill has completed its first stages through the House of Commons on its passage to being made into law. The Government is delivering on its manifesto commitment to extend the Right to Buy scheme to Housing Association tenants, which is on course to being implemented later this year.
Richard is a strong supporter of this initiative so if you are a Housing Association tenant who is interested in the Right to Buy scheme, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Richard Fuller has welcomed a new commitment by the Conservatives to extend the Right to Buy so that tenants of housing associations can buy their properties.
This will make a significant difference in Bedford and Kempston, giving thousands of local families the chance to own their own home. Crucially, it will also provide funds for new housing.
It comes on top of news that more than twice as many council houses have been built since 2010 than were built between 1997 and 2010.
Richard commented, “This is part of our commitment to back families who have worked hard and played by the rules. It will mean a new generation of people able to achieve their dream and enjoy the security that comes from owning your own home.”
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, joined local students to have a go at building new homes as part of National Apprentice Week on Friday. The students tried their hand at bricklaying and carpentry at a hands-on event at Barratt Homes’ Cygnet Mews development in Kempston.
Pupils from Bedford Academy, Hastingsbury Business & Enterprise College and Sharnbrook Upper School visited the new homes development on Wilkinson Road, where they met staff, learnt about the industry and gained practical, supervised experience of construction skills.
The aim of the visit, organised in partnership with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), was to demonstrate to the students the different skills involved in building a new home and to inspire them into considering a career in home building after leaving school.
Richard Fuller said; “As part of my plan for Bedford and Kempston I want to encourage house building by companies like Barratt so future generations can have the security of their own home.
“Home building is helping to drive the continuing economic recovery, and by encouraging young people to become apprentices through events such as this, responsible companies like Barratt Homes are creating jobs for the local area.”
Andrew Swindell, Managing Director of Barratt Homes Northampton, said; “We want to give local students a glimpse of what it’s like to work on a new homes development, as we’re always on the look-out for the home builders of the future.”
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford and Kempston, used the last Prime Minister’s Question time before Christmas to ask the PM what the Government can do to help young people in Bedford and Kempston on to the housing ladder.
You can watch Richard’s question and the Prime Minister’s answer by clicking the image above.
Afterwards, Richard commented,
“Right to Buy has been really popular locally, reducing the deposit required by first time buyers to purchase their own home. It was great to hear that the Government has now launched the Starter Homes Initiative offering 20% discounts on new affordable homes to buyers aged under 40.”
Richard has welcomed today’s announcement that disabled people living in residential care will continue to receive the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and its proposed successor, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The government had proposed to remove the mobility component of DLA from October 2012. Richard, who has campaigned on this issue for over a year, said he was delighted that since he first raised the issue in Parliament in November 2010, the Minister has taken the time to listen and consult to reach this decision, which allows disabled people in residential homes to maintain their independence.
As part of the listening exercise carried out by Maria Miller MP, Minister for Disabled People, Richard arranged for her to meet with a Bedford constituent, who had the chance to discuss the impact the removal of the mobility component would have on her son.
The Government’s decision sends a signal that it will continue to protect our most vulnerable members of society, despite the difficult economic challenges we face. Richard thanked the Bedford residents that had contacted him, as well as the Minister for meeting with him on several occasions and listening to the strong arguments put forward by his constituents.
The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps MP, has outlined new plans by the Government to make it easier to evict problem tenants from social housing.
The plans, which are now out for consultation, propose to allow previous convictions for anti-social behaviour to be taken into account, so where the situation has not improved, landlords can act swiftly to evict problem tenants. This will shorten the often long and expensive process which requires landlords to prove again the antisocial actions of their tenants.
Richard welcomed the news. Since becoming MP, he has heard from a number of local residents who suffer from anti-social neighbours. These proposals will help to shift the balance back in favour of the law-abiding victims of nightmare neighbours.