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Shadow environment secretary Gillian Shephard today issued a call for the benefits of choice, opportunity and respo...
Shadow environment secretary Gillian Shephard today issued a call for the benefits of choice, opportunity and responsibility in housing to be extended to all members of society.

Speaking at a National Housing and Planning conference in Eastbourne, Mrs Shephard reaffirmed the Conservative party's commitment to home ownership and stressed the need for the provision of good quality social housing.

Promising to build Conservative policy on the three building blocks of choice, opportunity and responsibility, Mrs Shephard announced that she was looking to re-examine housing policy 'from first principles' as part of the Conservative party's ongoing 'Listening to Britain' campaign. She said:

'The issues surrounding housing make it central to much of social policy today.

'Conservatives believe in social housing. We believe in a social rented sector in which rents are affordable to people on low incomes. We also believe in increasing home ownership. There is no necessary contradiction between the two.

'The overwhelming majority of people aspire to home ownership and there can be no serious debate on housing without accepting that basic premise. This was the insight which illuminated Conservative thinking on housing over the last two decades.

'But people's circumstances vary widely. Many do not want or are not able to buy their own home. They should also have a wide choice of housing, so that they can decide what is best for their family. A sustained revival of the private rented sector is necessary if their needs are to be met, as well as a strategic approach to social housing and partnerships.

'The select committee has described the government's housing proposals as well-intentioned but vague. It is time now for clarity on the way forward, and accountability, and action on planning guidance and finance.'

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