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Brokenshire reaffirms housing as top priority

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Housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire has pledged to enable “generation rent to become generation own”, as he reiterated housing as his top priority during a speech at the Conservative party conference today.

Addressing delegates in Birmingham this afternoon, Mr Brokenshire also praised Conservative councils for helping “to fix the mess left by the last Labour government” and said the fair funding review and business rates retention provide an opportunity “to drive further change, to support innovation and get the very best from local government”.

He also as expected announced a change in building regulations to ban the use of combustible materials for all new high rise residential buildings, hospitals, care homes and student accommodation.

Mr Brokenshire began his speech by referencing his lung cancer diagnosis last year and praised “amazing” NHS staff.

He then said prime minister Theresa May was right to make housing the government’s “biggest domestic priority”.

He reiterated the government’s pledge to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s.

“It’s about social justice, opportunity and building a fairer, stronger Britain,” Mr Brokenshire added.

“A Britain where generation rent can become generation own; a Britain where we turn the vision of a place you call home into a reality.”

Mr Brokenshire said the government needs to be “bold and radical” to speed up the delivery of new homes and “remove unnecessary barriers”.

He said brownfield land should be prioritised for development but also consider “land that’s already built on”.

Mr Brokenshire also announced a new homes ombudsman to hold developers to account and pledged further action to support high streets.

He praised Conservatives councillors for working “tirelessly” for communities.

“But I know an ageing population and growing demand are creating real pressures on public service”, Mr Brokenshire added.

“Health and social care are inextricably linked and any reforms must be aligned.

“That’s why I’m working with [health secretary] Matt Hancock – recognising local governent’s direct interests – towards the publication of the social care green paper.

“This will include plans to reform social care, provide better integration of services and put the care system on a long-term sustainable footing.”

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