John Healy defends government's social housing record in first public speech as housing minister

In his first public speech, John Healy, housing minister, vowed to give local councils more scope to set fairer allocation policies that met local labour markets. But he played down speculation that the review of the housing revenue account would be unveiled during the Chartered Institute of Housing conference. 

Healey defended the government’s record on social housing saying that he wanted to increase the visibility of its £8.5bn investment over the current spending period. He said he wanted to see “sharper” debates about housing which were freer of jargon.

He added that he would “take seriously any seriously argued policy case,” but said he woud not listen to “self-serving arguments that did not benefit the public.”

The minister said he wanted to offer more devolved control to housing associations and councils and give them more responsibility for longer-term planning. He said that councils could be expected to play a bigger part in building homes, but also wanted them to take a "wider role."

“We need a healthy balance between housing associations, ALMOs and councils and we need all to flourish,” he said.

Healey said that review of the HRA would arrive “soon.”

The minister moved into the job 11 days ago following prime minister Gordon Brown’s sacking of former housing minister, Margaret Beckett.