Number of affordable homes being built drops to 24-year low

Just 3,430 affordable homes were built in England last year

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The number of affordable homes being built in England has dropped to the lowest level for 24 years, official statistics reveal.

Just 3,430 affordable homes were constructed in the period 2015/16, the lowest number since 1991/92.

The number of homes for social rent fell to just 6,550 – 80 per cent lower than in Labour’s last full year in power in 2009/10 when the figure stood at 33,490.

Similarly, the number of homes for private rental also dropped from a peak of 40,730 in 2014/15 to just 16,550 last year.

Labour housing spokesperson John Healey said the figures reflected a “disastrous” state of housing provision. He said: “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.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government defended the figures, saying: “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.”

Recent figures from housing charity Shelter reveal their homelessness helpline receives one call for help ever 30 seconds. They say they have since a volume rise in calls over the last twelve months, amounting to an additional 50,000 people seeking help.

An August report by a cross-party group of MPs warned that the number of rough sleepers in England had risen by 30 per cent to 3,569 between 2014 and 2015. The committee cited recent welfare and housing benefit reforms as among contributing factors thought to be behind the spike.

With additional reporting by Press Association