Social housing construction falls 97 percent under Conservative rule

Social housing construction falls 97 percent under Conservative rule
An analysis of social housing statistics shows the effect of Conservative policies on the numbers of homes available to the most vulnerable.
2 min read
21 June, 2017
The homeless population has risen in tandem with the decline in social housing stock [Anadolu]
The number of new homes built for social housing each year has plummeted by 97 percent since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

Only 1,102 socially rented homes were built in England in 2016/17, compared with more than 13,700 in 2010-2011, an analysis of official statistics shows.

Statistics also show that public housing made up only 3.1 percent of national construction output in 2016, compared with private housing, which accounts for 19.6 percent of completed construction projects.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wrote that senior Conservatives had seen social housing as a "Petri dish" for Labour voters.

"One of them [David Cameron or George Osborne] - I honestly can't remember whom - looked genuinely nonplussed and said, 'I don't understand why you keep going on about the need for more social housing - it just creates Labour voters'."

The numbers come just one week after the Grenfell Tower fire, now a symbol of Britain's housing crisis, caused by long-term economic policies.

David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, said on Wednesday he hoped the fire "reopens the possibility of believing in council housing and social housing once again in Britain".

He described the Grenfell Tower as a "burned out shell" representing "where we have got to in terms of austerity in this country".

Indeed, many of these social houses were converted into what the government calls 'affordable homes'. Critics have argued however over the definition of "affordable" - especially for people on low and middle incomes.

In January of this year, the government announced it had expanded the "affordable housing programme" to meet the "diverse housing needs of the country", delivering more than 200,000 homes.

By contrast, the Chartered Institute of Housing forecasts "we will lose 250,000 homes for social rent between 2012 and 2020".

UN-appointed special rapporteurs on the right to housing have repeatedly warned the UK government of the impact of austerity measures on housing standards.

More recently, just one month before the general elections, Theresa May promised that the Tories will "support the most ambitious councils" which she said "will fix the broken housing market and support local authorities and housing associations to build a new generation of council homes right across the country".