A total of 217,350 new homes were added to the stock in England last year, official figures show, as Theresa May promised to take personal charge of the Government’s response to the housing crisis.
The figure for 2016/17 was 27,700 up on the previous year and the highest since the financial crash of 2007/08, but still fell well short of the 250,000 housing charity Shelter estimates are needed each year to tackle the shortage.
It came as the Government announced that housing association debt was being taken off the balance sheet, in an accounting change Communities Secretary Sajid Javid believes will give a stable investment environment to fund new homes.
The “net additional dwellings” figures released by Mr Javid’s Department for Communities and Local Government include 183,570 new-build homes completed in 2016/17, along with 5,680 conversions and 37,190 changes in use from agricultural, business or storage to residential.
The total was reduced by almost 10,000 demolitions.
In a speech in Bristol, Mr Javid is expected to admit the shortage of affordable property risks creating a “rootless generation” who drift from one short-term rental to another and never put down roots in a community.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Ahead of a visit to a north London housing development, Mrs May said: “For decades we simply have not been building enough homes, nor have we been building them quickly enough, and we have seen prices rise.
“The number of new homes being delivered each year has been increasing since 2010, but there is more we can do.
“We must get back into the business of building the good quality new homes for people who need them most.
“That is why I have made it my mission to build the homes the country needs and take personal charge of the Government’s response.”
She vowed the Government would ensure “we build more homes, more quickly”, but warned: “This will be a long journey and it will take time for us to fix the broken housing market.”
Mr Javid will say a young generation of people is “crying out for help with housing”.
“They don’t want the world handed to them on a plate,” he will say. “They want simple fairness, moral justice, the opportunity to play by the same rules enjoyed by those who came before them.
“Without affordable, secure, safe housing we risk creating a rootless generation, drifting from one short-term tenancy to the next, never staying long enough to play a role in their community.”
Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “These figures confirm that new house-building still hasn’t returned to the level it was before the global financial crisis, a decade on. Any increase in new housing is welcome, but in any other area of public policy this record of failure would be cause for resignation, not celebration.”