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Housing

Brexit won’t stop Britain building, says Sajid Javid

Communities Secretary remains confident the government can deliver on housing plans set out during Budget 2017

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has vowed to keep the country building, however Brexit shakes out in the coming years.

The government wants to shift the sluggish house-building industry up a gear, from the 217,000 homes built in England last year to a regular annual delivery of 300,000 homes.

Despite the gloomy economic outlook for the UK, Javid said financial uncertainty would not hit the government’s housing plans.

“I think that as long we keep following the strategy we’ve set out I’m confident we can meet that (target of getting 300,000 homes built a year),” Javid told The Big Issue.

“I don’t think Brexit is going to have an impact on our ability to build the homes that we need.”

In a wide-ranging interview, the minister described the unaffordability of housing as “the biggest barrier to social progress in our country today.”

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In a democracy there is also a danger that if you don’t listen to people, you can lose out.

Javid expressed sympathy with young people struggling to find housing they can afford, and warned that Labour could snatch more votes over the issue.

“One of the lessons from the last election was all politicians can do more to listen to younger voters,” he said.

“In a democracy there is also a danger that if you don’t listen to people, you can lose out. As long as we can keep showing people we absolutely understand the gravity of the situation and what needs to be done to fix this broken market, I think people will appreciate that.”

The Communities Secretary, who recently urged the government to borrow to fund a more ambitious building programme, said Chancellor Philip Hammond had made “a significant step forward for delivering all kinds of housing, including social housing” with last week’s Budget.

Javid also said he was “delighted” funding had been earmarked for a “Housing First” strategy to tackle rough sleeping.

The Chancellor said three regional Housing First pilots would be set up to give people on the streets their own accommodation and intensive help to address their problems.

There was additional funding for an initiative aimed at helping private renters at risk of homelessness.

Read the full interview with Sajid Javid in next week’s festive edition of The Big Issue, out Monday December 4.

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