Theresa May’s conference pledge to invest an additional £2billion is coming from a cut in spending on other house building programmes, it has been revealed.
The Prime Minister used her speech in Manchester in October to announce extra money would be pumped in to the affordable housing budget, as part of her drive to get “government back into the business of building houses.”
But HuffPost UK has discovered that tucked away in the Office for Budget Responsibility’s analysis of the Chancellor’s Budget last week is the truth about where that £2billion money is coming from.
It is not new money, and is instead being raised “by reducing spending on ‘accelerated construction’ and ‘starter homes’ across the four years from 2017-18 to 2020-21.”
The revelation comes on the day the Government’s own figures show the number of new social housing building’s completed between April and September this year was down 98% on the same period in 2009.
Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey said: “On housing, the Conservatives talk big but deliver little.
“Last week’s Budget was supposed to make good Theresa May’s personal pledge to fix the housing crisis.
“Not only was there no new government funding for affordable homes in the Budget, now the government’s own spending watchdog has revealed that Theresa May’s conference pledge is just recycled cash from other housing programmes.
“There’s zero chance that Ministers will make a meaningful difference to the housing pressures people face if they continue with these small-scale funding and policy announcements.”
In her conference speech, which was disrupted by her losing her voice and part of the set falling down, the Prime Minster said “fixing our broken housing market” was vital to “restoring hope” for millions of young people.
Ahead of last week’s Budget, May vowed to take “personal charge” of solving the housing crisis, and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid appealed to the Chancellor to borrow £50billion to kick start a home building programme.
Yet the range of measures announced by Philip Hammond would not see any extra homes built as a direct result of the Budget.
The OBR claimed his policy of scrapping stamp duty for first-time buyers on the first £300,000 of a home would actually drive up prices – although this was disputed by the Chancellor.
Housebuilding figures released today by the Government show 199 homes for social rent were completed between April and September this year, compared t0 10,597 completed over the same period in 2009.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Since 2010 we have delivered over 357,000 affordable homes, including 257,000 for rent. These latest figures show progress but we know there is more to be done - that’s why we have increased the affordable homes budget to more than £9billion.
“Building more affordable homes is an absolute priority for the Government. We have also confirmed long term-rent certainty for social landlords in England, and introduced social rent for areas of high affordability pressure and homelessness to help support the different needs of a wide range of people.”