Number of affordable homes built in England slumps to 24-year low

From The Guardian: Fewer affordable homes were built in the past year than any time in the past 24 years, while there was a 52% fall in the supply of new homes in just 12 months.

Builders put the finishing touches to 32,110 affordable homes in England in the year to the end of March 2016, compared with 66,600 over the previous year, according to figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Of those, just 6,550 – about 20% – were for social rent, which critics say is the only truly affordable housing tenure, with the rest made available to rent or buy at “affordable” rates of up to 80% of market value.

Critics said the figures were disastrous, and called on the government to do more to encourage housebuilding. They come as the proportion of households that own a property is at a 30-year low and rising house prices have driven the cost of buying a home to more than 10 times the average salary in a third of England and Wales.

But John Healey, the shadow secretary of state for housing, accused the government of trying to massage the figures by redefining “affordable” to include many at close to an already inflated market rent.

“These figures … show we are now building the lowest number of social rented homes since records began and the number of affordable homes to buy has fallen by two-thirds since 2010,” he said.

“This all-time low results from Conservative ministers who have washed their hands of any responsibility to build the homes families on ordinary incomes need. We’ve seen six wasted years with the Tories in charge of housing. They have no long-term plan for housing and they’re doing too little to fix the housing crisis for millions of people, who are just managing to cover their housing costs.”

Anne Baxendale, the head of policy and public affairs at the housing charity Shelter, called the figures “not only shocking but unacceptable. With 120,000 children set to spend Christmas homeless and in temporary accommodation and a whole generation of private renters living from one paycheck to the next, the new government needs to get a grip on this problem once and for all.”

[Read full article on the Guardian website…]