'Disaster' as UK house-building rate falls away

Less than half the amount of new houses needed to meet demand were built in the last year

Deputy Political Editor

The number of affordable houses and flats built in England fell sharply last year, highlighting the pressures facing first-time homebuyers, Government figures released today have disclosed.

Just 107,950 homes were constructed in 2012-13, well short of the 250,000 to 300,000 extra properties that experts believe are required every year to keep pace with growing demand.

David Cameron has championed his “help to buy” scheme, under which the taxpayer guarantees up to 15 per cent of mortgages, as a way of tackling the national housing crisis.

Almost 5,400 homes have been bought in the first six months of the initiative, 92 per cent of which went to first-time buyers, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said.

But the extent of national housing shortages was underlined by separate DCLG statistics showing a second yearly fall in the number of new affordable homes provided in 2012-13.

The total fell from 58,100 in 2011-12 to 42,830 in 2012-13, a drop of 26 per cent and the lowest number for eight years. They included 39,400 newly-built homes, a drop of 25 per cent on the previous year.

Campbell Robb, the chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said the decline “spells disaster for the thousands of families we see every day who are struggling to cope with soaring housing costs”.

He added: “In the 1960s we frequently built up to 400,000 new homes a year, and there is no reason why we can’t see this scale of house building again.

“But unless we see decisive action from the government to build more affordable homes, more people across the country will find themselves priced out of a stable home.”

Almost 17,600 social rented homes were supplied in 2012-13, which the DCLG acknowledged was a “significant decrease” from the 37,680 delivered in the previous 12 months.

The decline was partially offset by new-builds, but overall the number of new affordable rented properties tumbled by more than one-third.

Emma Reynolds, the shadow housing minister, said the fall in affordable properties was further evidence of Government failure to “act on the cost-of-living crisis”.

She said: “David Cameron is presiding over the lowest levels of house building in peacetime since the 1920s. Home ownership remains out of reach of low and middle-income earners, rents are rising faster than wages and waiting lists grow ever longer.”

But Kris Hopkins, the housing minister, said that in the last three months house-building had reached its highest levels since the financial crash of 2008.

He said the housing market inherited by the Coalition in 2010 was a “smoking ruin”, but the Government’s policies were returning it to health.

The House Builders Federation yesterday said the help to buy scheme was boosting demand for new homes.

Its executive chairman, Stewart Baseley, executive chairman, said: “People’s inability to buy in recent years has been the biggest constraint on the industry’s efforts to build more homes.

“If people can buy, builders will build. Help to buy is allowing people who can afford to buy a home to do so, meaning builders can get on with building the homes the country needs.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

English Teacher Full Time & Part time.

£100 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: This outstanding school in the ...

IT Teacher

£100 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: IT teacher required immediately...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album