The cornerstone of the Government's housing strategy is to increase the supply of housing across all tenures including, in particular, social and affordable housing. I introduced a range of measures in Action on House Prices – April 1998 – and Action on the Housing Market – March 1999 – to accelerate the provision of additional housing supply and bring balance to the housing market. I have recently commissioned Peter Bacon and Associates, economic consultants, to undertake a general review of housing market developments since the introduction by the Government of these measures and to carry out an evaluation of recent developments in housing demand, housing supply and house prices. The review has been commenced and it is envisaged that it will be concluded by the end of May. I anticipate that the results of the review will be considered urgently by Government and then published together with an appropriate response. I have also established a housing supply unit in my Department to ensure urgent and effective delivery of the housing supply measures and to identify any additional measures that might be put in place to further increase housing supply.
In response to increased need I have significantly expanded the local authority housing programme to provide 22,000 additional local authority house starts over a four year multi-annual programme, 2000-03. The multi-annual nature of the programme will enable the more effective planning and implementation of local authority housing delivery. I am also committed to assisting the voluntary housing sector to increase output over the period of the national development plan to reach a level of 4,000 units of accommodation per year. Improvements to the terms and conditions of the voluntary housing schemes have been introduced on a number of occasions, most recently last October.
The Government has allocated £6 billion to social and affordable housing in the national development plan which will ensure that the social housing needs of over 90,000 households will be met with Government assistance over the plan period.