No evidence for Rishi Sunak’s claim that a ‘record’ number of new homes have been built

Fullfact.org said it found no evidence to support Sunak's claim.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may be keen to portray himself as a more serious operator than his immediate predecessors, but there’s one thing he shares in common with Boris Johnson and that’s making claims which are later proved to be untrue.

During his first appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Sunak claimed there had been a record number of new homes built in the last year, as he took on Keir Starmer and tried to rally Tory MPs behind him.

Answering a question about protecting the green belt, he said: “We must protect our green belt and we are adopting a “brownfield first” strategy. I am pleased that we had a record number of new homes built in the last year, but it is important that we build those homes in the right places.”

However, the fact checking website Fullfact.org said it found no evidence to support the claim. The most recent published data shows 173,520 new homes were completed in England in the year to June 2022, slightly down on the previous year.

Indeed, Sunak’s claim is not supported by the most recent figures published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), which are linked to the website.

Fullfact went on to add: “When we asked Number 10 what statistics Mr Sunak was referring to, an official pointed us to a range of house-building figures for England, but none of these substantiated his claim. Number 10 has not responded to further queries.”

Fullfact highlights that there are two main sets of statistics that ‘give us an idea of how many new homes are being built—‘indicators of new supply’ and ‘net additional dwellings’, with neither supporting Sunak’s claims.

When it comes to indicators of new supply, FullFact states: “In the year ending June 2022 there were 173,520 new homes completed in England. This is not a record—in the previous year ending June 2021 there were 181,900 new homes completed.”

It goes on to add: “Quarterly data on new homes built goes back to 1978. If you use this to look at the number of new homes completed each year to the end of June, it shows the level of housebuilding  was higher than in the year ending June 2022 in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the late 1980s, and in 2021.”

Sunak’s claims failed to stack up when it came to net dwellings too. It stated: “The UK Government only publishes data on net additional dwellings in England, rather than UK-wide. The figures on net additional dwellings in England begin in 2000, with the most recent data capturing the financial year ending 2021.

“This wasn’t a record year either.  2020/21 saw 216,000 homes added to the stock in England, fewer than in the last four financial years and in 2007/08. “

So much for a fresh start from the Tories.

(Picture credit: Chris McAndrew: Creative Commons)

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