The coalition’s appalling failure to build houses laid bare

Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds will today set out plans to reverse the coalition's record, which has resulted in 205,000 fewer home owners


In 2009-10, 67.4 per cent of people owned their own home. By 2013-14, that number had fallen to 63.3 per cent, and there are currently 205,000 fewer home owners than when David Cameron came to power.

The housing failures of this government are myriad, and the effects could be felt for years to come; if the current trend continues, in 2020 only 57.8 per cent of people will own their home, the lowest proportion since 1981.

The coalition has presided over the lowest level of house building in peace time since the 1920s, and the lowest level of social housing building for two decades. A record one in four young people – 3.35 million – are living with their parents into their twenties and thirties. Again, if the trend continues, by 2020 only one in five people under 25 will be homeowners – less than half than in 2010.

Today Emma Reynolds, Labour’s shadow minister for Housing, will set out Labour’s plan for recapturing the post-war spirit of home building. Speaking at the annual Sir Frederic Osborn Lecture to the Town and Country Planning Association, she will argue that Labour’s is the only plan which can restore the dream of home ownership for the next generation. Labour plan to be building 200,000 homes a year by 2020.

She is expected to say that housebuilding will be a national priority for the next Labour government, who are planning to build a new generation of New Towns and Garden Cities, give local communities stronger powers to build homes, and create a major new role for local government in commissioning and delivering housing developments.

Emma Reynolds is expected to say:

“The next Labour government will recapture the post-war spirit for building new homes and match that renewed ambition with a drive to build high quality homes and great places for new communities.

“While the Tories still believe, despite their failure over the past five years, that the housing crisis will be solved by the market alone, Labour is clear that to tackle the housing crisis there must be a much more active role for national and local government.

“Under Labour’s plan, local government will take a major new role in assembling land, delivering infrastructure and commissioning housing development. But to succeed, it will be a partnership with the private sector, attracting private investment and commissioning private developers to build the homes we need.

“Labour will also increase competition in the building industry, build more affordable homes and unleash a new programme of New Towns and Garden Cities.”

Labour plan to introduce a Help to Build scheme, which will allow SMEs to access lower-cost bank lending, supported by Treasury guarantees. They also plan to give first time buyers priority in newly designated ‘Housing Growth Areas’, allowing more young people to escape the cycle of private renting.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

18 Responses to “The coalition’s appalling failure to build houses laid bare”

  1. AlanGiles

    I live in an area where more and more houses are being built, often incredibly closely together and small and shoddy. The one thing that hasn’t happened though is more GP surgeries, dental practices and hospitals to cope with the many extra patients such building programmes will incur. No doubt the “one nation” Labour party will rectify that?

  2. damon

    What you say there is one of the reasons I’m a bit slow to champion more house building.
    It’s the way we do it that sucks.
    Why we can’t just duplicate the best of the high density housing that you get in European cities like Barcelona I don’t know.

    Why couldn’t we have built Crawley, Basildon and Harlow like this?

  3. Leon Wolfeson

    …Oh, you mean the mid-rise I’ve been championing for years.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    So tinkering round the edges, no more. Thanks, Labour.

    Allowing councils to borrow to build council housing would be step 1 of a sensible plan, but nope.

  5. Faerieson

    I also used to live in one of those ‘sink’ areas, where an exponential volume of new, often spatially-compromised, housing is suddenly ‘dumped,’ and had many heated exchanges with a questionable council ‘planning’ department as a result. In terms of living-space, the UK already has one of the lowest requirements in Western Europe.

    And yet housing is still required, huge numbers of which (even so-called ‘starter homes,) are routinely snapped up by often rogue landlords. Thus housing remains cheap at source, yet inflated at the sales or rental end.

    The spiralling pay gap also does not bode well for future housing ‘development.’

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