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THE number of social rented homes built by the government has fallen by a “disastrous” 96 per cent since the Conservatives took over, Labour warned today.
More than 31,000 government-funded homes for social rent were built in 2009-10. This fell to 970 in 2017-18 and then to 961 in the last financial year.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey called the fall “a disaster” for more than one million people on council housing waiting lists.
He said: “The government’s failure to tackle the housing crisis is now more obvious than ever.
“Deep cuts to investment mean the country is now building 30,000 fewer social rented homes each year than we were when Labour was in government. Households now have to pay higher rents, and as a result the housing benefit bill is higher too.
“After nine years of failure on housing, it’s clear the Conservatives have no plan to fix the housing crisis. They should back Labour’s long-term plan for a million new genuinely affordable homes, which will include the biggest council house building programme for nearly 40 years.”
Social rent is an umbrella term to include council homes and those owned by housing associations. Defend Council Housing (DCH) argues that a commitment should be made to develop more council housing as they have the lowest rents, the most housing security, and are democratically accountable as associations are elected by residents.
DCH’s Eileen Short told the Star that the main reason figures are declining is because housing policies are “increasingly dictated by developers and landlords.”
“Big companies and landlords are profiting out of the housing crisis while people are facing homelessness, overcrowding and despair instead of building the housing we need,” she said.
Ms Short added that commitments need to be in line with Shelter’s report to build 150,000 homes a year. She says 100,000 of these need to be council homes.
“Any MP who wants to do anything [about housing] must be committed to this and put it in their election manifesto. Labour is now campaigning for and supporting that, and there is growing support for this kind of action from tenant organisations,” she said.
“We have to switch the balance. Developers and private landlords are part of the problem, not the solution. The people who make money out of [the crisis] won’t sort it.”
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