Labour hits out at figures showing impact of Coalition cuts to social housing

The number of affordable homes built has slumped by more than 95% in the last six months, following on from the freeze in Homes and Communities Agency funding last year when the Coalition took office.

The total number of affordable homes started between April and September this year fell to just 454 in England, a 97% drop from the 13,626 homes started in the same period in 2010. The fall from the second half of last year is even greater, showing a drop in starts of 99%.

The fall in homes specifically for affordable rent was even more dramatic, with a 98% fall from the 9,360 homes produced in the first half of the 2010 financial year to just 259 homes produced in the same period this year.

The figures, contained in official HCA statistics, come after the government launched a £400m housing strategy designed to increase the number of homes built for private sale. The HCA said the dramatic fall was due to delays brought about by the move to the new system of Affordable Rent, in which social homes are given less grant but allowed to charge higher rents.

The figures show that by the end of the period in September, not a single Affordable Rent homes had been started. Last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review cut the funding for affordable housing to 2015 by 60%, meaning that for the first two years the vast majority of homes built will be ones already allocated for funding by the previous government.

Housing associations have raised concerns in the last six months that delays in agreeing contracts for the new Affordable Rent programme was leading to a hiatus in social housing construction.

The Labour Party has hit out at the figures, as evidence of the impact of the Coalition’s funding cuts to housing. Jack Dromey MP, shadow housing minister, said: “These figures show the disastrous impact of this Government’s 60% cut of £4bn to Labour’s Affordable Homes Programme.

He added that the 60,000 new affordable homes built last year, which housing minister Grant Shapps has claimed were evidence of the Coalition’s success, were “planned for, financed and started” by the last Labour government.

He said: “On Monday this out of touch Government committed to giving back only 10% of last year’s £4 billion cut to housing investment to build just 3,200 affordable homes, this wouldn’t even cover 10% of the fall in the affordable homes starts in the last 6 months. Their housing policies are failing and those in need of a decent, affordable home are paying the price.”