10 years of the Tories has meant a “disgraceful decline” in the number of council homes, according to Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healy.
According to latest government figures, the number of homes rented from councils has dropped from 1,786,000 in 2010 to 1,592,000 by the end of 2018 – a fall of 194,000 – a number equivalent to all the homes in Bristol.
The figure is likely to be attributed in part to changes made under the Coalition Government, which drastically cut funding for council housing and diverted investment into “affordable housing”.
With “affordable” rents set at up to 80% of market rates, this is typically much more expensive than council homes offered at social rents.
The Right To Buy scheme, which allows council house tenants to buy their home, has also often been blamed for the loss of council homes, given that fewer than one in three of the homes sold under the scheme are currently being replaced.
Despite this, the Conservatives’ pledged the extension of housing association Right to Buy pilot in their 2019 manifesto – but plans to fund the discounts through selling council homes have now been dropped, meaning it has to be funded centrally.
During a recent debate, housing minister Esther McVey was forced into a defence of the government’s record on council homes – when challenged over “fantasy figures” covering Right To Buy losses.
Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle said the 6,287 homes for social rent built last year were offset by 10,000 lost to Right to Buy and other conversions.
However, McVey maintained councils built 26,185 affordable homes between 2010-11 and 2018-19 – up from just 2,994 over the previous 13 years under a Labour Administration.
Boris Johnson has also pledged to introduce a scheme to allow first-time buyers to purchase homes at a 30% discount on market prices.
Commenting on the latest council housing statistics, John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, who uncovered the figures said: “Ten years of the Tories has meant a disgraceful decline in the number of council homes.
“It is inexcusable that communities are losing council homes when they have never been so badly needed.
He added: “Conservative ministers are happy to see homes sold off while refusing to invest for the future.
“Britain badly needs big investment in a new generation of council homes in every area of the country if we’re to fix our housing crisis.”
A spokesperson for MHCLG said: “Since 2010 this government has delivered over 464,000 new affordable homes, including 114,000 social homes.
“In addition to this, the social housing waiting list has decreased by 40% since 2012.
“Last year we delivered more homes than any year in the last 30 years and have committed to delivering a million more in this parliament.
“We have also abolished the council borrowing cap so local authorities are able to continue to build more social homes, giving families the chance to find somewhere that is safe and secure.”