Date Published 10 September 2012
The housing crisis in Britain is the worst in a generation, MPs have been told.
During a Commons debate on housing, shadow housing minister Jack Dromey accused Downing Street itself of having manufactured the homes crisis.
He said: `The facts are stark: house building is down, homelessness is up, private rents have hit record highs, and we have a mortgage market in which people struggle to get mortgages.
`The latest Government figures tell us that fewer than 100,000 homes were started in the 12 months to June, which is a 10% decrease on the previous 12 months and amounts to fewer than half the 230,000 new households being formed every year.`
He reminded the Commons that two years ago, then housing minister Grant Shapps had said: `Building more homes is the gold standard upon which we shall be judged.`
But, said Dromey, the collapse in the house building industry had been catastrophic.
He said: `We meet regularly some of the major developers and building companies, and they all say the same thing. They have planning permission for in excess of 300,000 sites, and the figure is rising, but they simply do not feel that they can proceed, not least because of the state of the economy and the mortgage market.`
Dromey said that homelessness had risen and that, contrary to claims made by both David Cameron and Shapps, private rents had not fallen.
He said that according to LSL, rents hit a record high over the summer, helping to lock more young people out of home ownership as they struggled to raise a deposit.
Dromey said that the Government had come up with a number of ‘half-cocked’ initiatives, but none had worked, and the banks were still not lending.
Replying, new housing minister Mark Prisk said the fact that the housing debate was the first initiated by Labour in over two and a half years ‘shows just how interested they are in the subject’.
He said: `However, the fact cannot be ignored that under the Labour government, house building fell to the lowest peacetime level since the 1920s.
`Labour had its nine different ministers and ten different housing Acts, but for all that activity it delivered very little. Maybe that is why it has taken it two and a half years to muster up the courage to have a debate on the subject.
Prisk said that the Government is now `focused on getting houses built, providing more affordable homes and making sure that home ownership is affordable once again`.