The RICS contradicts Prescott and says that new homes cost at least £100,000 to build.

The RICS has disputed deputy prime minister John Prescott's claim that contractors could build houses for £60,000, putting the total cost at more like £100,000.

The institution's Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) has calculated the average building cost as £80,000, using its databank of 200 social housing projects over the past year. It also calculated you would have to add an extra £20,000 on that cost from design, project management costs and developers' profits.

Prescott made the £60,000 claim at the Labour Party Conference on Sunday in a speech on how the government could improve the flow of affordable housing.

In his speech he said: "Instead of selling land to the highest bidder, I want to work with builders to deliver high quality homes at affordable prices. If we take land costs out of the equation, I believe it should be possible to build a high quality home for around £60,000."