The great housing crisis: Labour beats Tories over new homes

Conservative councils build only half as much affordable and social housing

Labour councils are building twice as many homes in their areas as Conservatives local authorities, new research reveals today. Since the last election, an average of 403 social and affordable homes have been built in each Labour council area, compared with 201 in each Tory-held authority. There are an average of 618 social and affordable homes in the pipeline, with planning permission and financing in place, in each Labour area compared with 365 homes in each Conservative council.

The figures will fuel concerns about the UK's housing crisis, with George Osborne taking steps to boost housing supply, including for those most in need, in his Autumn Statement last week. There are 1.8 million people on the social housing waiting list, and the number of families in temporary accommodation has increased by 8 per cent in the past year. Shelter estimates that 85,000 children in Britain will wake up on Christmas Day in temporary accommodation.

The figures revealed today, obtained by shadow Local Government Secretary Hilary Benn through Freedom of Information requests to all councils in England, raise questions over why house-building is more productive in Labour authorities than Conservative. The Government described the figures yesterday as "bogus", and claimed that 150,000 new affordable homes had already been delivered across the country.

But Labour sources pointed out that, with so many on the housing waiting list, demand was not limited to traditional Labour areas – northern towns and cities – but that rural areas also faced poverty and a lack of social housing.

Ed Miliband will launch Labour's review into housing supply, announced at his party conference, later this month. The review by Sir Michael Lyons, the former BBC chairman, will take between six and 12 months and will look at all aspects of housing – from the soaring property market to the lack of affordable housing. Housing is one of the biggest elements of the "cost of living crisis", said Labour sources, with rents soaring and the ratio of house prices to earnings also increasing.

Of 326 councils in England that were asked for data, 282 responded. Mr Benn said yesterday: "The soaring cost of renting or buying a house is a big part of the cost of living crisis felt by people and families across the country. I'm proud that Labour authorities are doing so much of the hard work of identifying need, freeing up land, working with their communities to gain planning consent and developers and housing associations to get spades in the ground.

"By making social and affordable housing a priority, Labour authorities not only provide much-needed homes, but also create vital jobs and apprenticeships to support the local economy, get young people into work and on to the housing ladder, sometimes in the very homes they're building."

But Kris Hopkins, the Housing minister, said: "This government is investing £19.5bn in house building over this spending review, and £23bn in the three years after that, which will lead to the fastest rate of affordable house-building for two decades. We've already delivered 150,000 affordable homes and further contracts have been signed for building in council areas of all political colours, including 55,000 in London being delivered by a Conservative mayor. This report is completely bogus and yet another dodgy dossier from Labour."

In a key measure in his Autumn Statement last week, George Osborne announced £1bn of funds to spent on boosting housebuilding across the UK, including Manchester and Leeds. Developers will be offered loans, at market rates, over the next six years if their projects create at least 1,500 homes, and the money is for roads and other infrastructure rather than property. The Treasury says this would support the development of 250,000 new homes, both public and private sector.

The Chancellor also said he would raise the limit on the amount of money councils are allowed to borrow to build new social homes. The Housing Revenue Account borrowing limits will increase by £150m in 2015-16 and a further £150m in 2016-17, which would help to build 10,000 new affordable homes.

In his conference speech, the Labour leader promised the creation of new towns and a "right to grow" – allowing councils and housebuilders to create more homes.

Labour claims that the Government was downgrading the importance of housing, by changing the status of its Housing minister from minister of state to parliamentary undersecretary of state. At the same time, Mr Miliband made the post of shadow Housing minister, held by Emma Reynolds, a Shadow Cabinet position.

A Labour source said: "Housing will be one of the defining challenges for a Labour government in 2015."

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
News
Jennifer Lawrence at the Vanity Fair Academy Awards party in February 2014
people12 undisclosed female victims are seeking $100m in damages
Arts and Entertainment
Adam Levine plays a butcher who obsessively stalks a woman in Maroon 5's 'Animals' music video
music'Animals' video 'promotes sexual violence against women'
News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
voicesI like surprises - that's why I'm bringing them back to politics, writes Nigel Farage
News
Bear and hare woodland scene from John Lewis Christmas advert
newsRetailer breaks with tradition, selling real festive fir trees online for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Anthony Horowitz will write the next 007 novel
booksAnthony Horowitz to write new instalment in spy series for 2015
News
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
people
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
Kicking on: Nathaniel Clyne is relishing the challenge of the Premier League after moving from Crystal Palace
footballSurprises include a first ever call-up for one Southampton star
Voices
4 May 2013: The sun rises over Tower Bridge in London. Temperatures across the UK could be higher than several European holiday destinations by Monday, including parts of Italy and France (Andy Hepburn/PA)
voices
News
The moon observed in visible light, topography and the GRAIL gravity gradients
science

...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought

News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to tea...

Digital Fundraising Analyst/Web Analyst - West Sussex - Permanent - £30k DOE

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Application Support Engineer – 6 month FTC – West Sussex - £26k-£28k pro rata

£26000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?