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Building of new affordable homes in 2015/16 at 24-year low

Published 17/11/2016

The number of affordable homes to buy has fallen by two-thirds since 2010
The number of affordable homes to buy has fallen by two-thirds since 2010

The number of affordable homes being built in England slumped to its lowest level for 24 years in 2015/16, according to official statistics.

The total of 32,110 new affordable homes was less than half the 66,600 built the previous year and the lowest since 1991/92. The number of homes for social rent fell to just 6,550 - 80% lower than in Labour's last full year in power in 2009/10 when the figure stood at 33,490.

The number of homes for private rental at "affordable" rates fell from a peak of 40,730 in 2014/15 to 16,550 in 2015/16, while the total constructed for affordable home ownership plummeted from 15,970 to just 3,430 over the same period - down from more than 22,000 in each of Labour's last three years in office.

Labour housing spokesman John Healey described the provisional figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government as "disastrous", adding: "They show we are now building the lowest number of social rented homes since records began. And the number of affordable homes to buy has fallen by two-thirds since 2010.

"This all-time low results from Conservative ministers who have washed their hands of any responsibility to build the homes families on ordinary incomes need. We've seen six wasted years with the Tories in charge of housing. They have no long-term plan for housing and they're doing too little to fix the housing crisis for millions of people who are just managing to cover their housing costs."

Mr Healey accused the Government of trying to hide its "failure" by branding more homes as affordable, even when they are available at 80% of market rent or have a purchase price of as much as £450,000.

"Public concern about housing is at the highest level for 40 years. Millions of families are struggling with high housing costs," he said. "Faced with this, ministers have turned their back on the way they can help most - by building low-cost homes to rent and buy.

"Phillip Hammond must use next week's Autumn Statement to reverse the damage his Government have done in the last six years and back Labour's plans to build."

A DCLG spokesman said: "Delivery is normally lower in the first year of any new housing programme and so these figures are expected as part of a five-year house-building cycle.

"Building more homes is an absolute priority for this Government, which is why we have doubled the housing budget to £8 billion and we now have the largest affordable housing programme in 40 years.

"Furthermore, latest figures out this week show overall house building is at its highest level in eight years and we will be publishing our White Paper shortly, setting out our plans to build more homes and more quickly."

Anne Baxendale, head of policy and public affairs at the housing charity Shelter, said: "At a time when this country is crying out for more genuinely affordable homes, these figures are not only shocking but unacceptable.

"With 120,000 children set to spend Christmas homeless and in temporary accommodation and a whole generation of private renters living from one pay cheque to the next, the new Government needs to get a grip on this problem once and for all.

"It is possible to turn things around, and we will be looking to next week's Autumn Statement for a solid commitment to build homes that people on lower incomes can actually afford to rent or buy."

A Local Government Association spokesman said: "Councils want to get on with the job of building the new homes that people in their areas desperately need.

"If we are to stand any chance of solving our housing crisis, councils must be able to replace sold homes and reinvest in building more of the genuine affordable homes our communities desperately need now more than ever."

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