Steep decline in social housing

(Sir) Kevin Barron cannot be allowed to get away with his diatribe about the lack of affordable homes (Worksop Guardian 10th January).

According to the Gospel of Sir Kev our housing shortage started just after his party was kicked out of government. I’m sure even his dimmest supporters will realise that is not the case.

Between 1979 and 1996 (Tory Government) the total building for houses by local authorities and by registered social landlords was 913,690, while from 1997 to 2008 (Labour Government) building totalled a significantly lower 290,750. Between 1979 and 1996 an average of 50,761 new homes in the social housing sector were built, compared to 24,299 from 1997-2008.

The most striking aspect of the figures is the steep decline in local authority housing during the period in question, falling from a peak of 88,530 new homes in 1980, to a low of 130 in 2004.

Replenishing the social housing stock after Right to Buy sales has not been a significant enough priority for the governments of either party, it seems. Given the reduced rates at which homes were sold, and the lack of in built guarantees for the proceeds to be reinvested, a fall in the supply of social housing seems almost inevitable.

While social housing has its place in society, there does not appear to be a willingness to have large parts of the population living in it. Nevertheless with waiting lists for social housing running at four million, I am justified in raising questions over Labour’s housing policy during the 13 years they were in government.

The simple and bold facts are the last Labour Government failed to invest in new homes building and there is no record of (Sir) Kevin Barron urging the Labour Government to do so.

Colin Tawn

(via email)