Almost 200,000 council homes lost in decade since Tories came to power

Labour condemns 'disgraceful' 11 per cent drop in number of homes being rented from local authorities

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 14 January 2020 16:31
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Robert Jenrick says the Conservatives are going to offer discounts and help with deposits to create a better housing market

Almost 200,000 council homes have been lost since the Tories came to power in 2010, new analysis has revealed - a number equivalent to all the homes in Bristol.

The latest government figures show that the number of homes rented from councils has dropped from 1,786,000 in 2010 to 1,592,000 by the end of 2018 - a fall of 194,000, or 11 per cent.

The number of council homes has dropped every year since 2010.

The fall is likely to be attributed in part to changes made under the Coalition Government, which drastically cut funding for council housing and diverted investment into "affordable housing". With "affordable" rents set at up to 80 per cent of market rates, this is typically much more expensive than council homes offered at social rents.

The changes went hand-in-hand with swingeing cuts to local authority budgets.

The Right to Buy scheme, which allows council house tenants to buy their home, has also often been blamed for the loss of council homes, given that fewer than one in three of the homes sold under the scheme are currently being replaced.

Despite this, the Conservatives' 2019 manifesto pledged to maintain Right to Buy and continue to extend it to housing association tenants.

It also promised that the government would publish a white paper on social housing in order to "support the continued supply of social homes".

Boris Johnson has also pledged to introduce a scheme to allow first-time buyers to purchase homes at a 30 per cent discount on market prices.

Commenting on the latest council housing statistics, John Healey MP, Labour's shadow housing secretary, who uncovered the figures, said: “Ten years of the Tories has meant a disgraceful decline in the number of council homes.

“It is inexcusable that communities are losing council homes when they have never been so badly needed.

He added: “Conservative ministers are happy to see homes sold off while refusing to invest for the future.

“Britain badly needs big investment in a new generation of council homes in every area of the country if we’re to fix our housing crisis.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “Since 2010 this government has delivered over 464,000 new affordable homes, including 114,000 social homes. In addition to this, the social housing waiting list has decreased by 40 per cent since 2012.

“Last year we delivered more homes than any year in the last 30 years and have committed to delivering a million more in this parliament. We have also abolished the council borrowing cap so local authorities are able to continue to build more social homes, giving families the chance to find somewhere that is safe and secure.”

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