Rishi Sunak Slammed Over 'False' Housebuilding Claim During PMQs

'The public has a right to expect truth at the ballot box, especially from the prime minister.'
Prime minister Rishi Sunak.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak.
LEE SMITH via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has been slammed for repeating a “false” claim that the government has built record numbers of new houses.

The prime minister made the previously-debunked claim during clashes with Keir Starmer at prime minister’s questions.

Data shows 173,520 new homes were completed in England in the year to June 2022, slightly down on the previous year.

However, Sunak told the Commons on Wednesday: “Actually, we’ve had recordly [sic] high numbers of housebuilding and, indeed, the highest number of first-time buyers in around 20 years under this government.”

Sunak made a similar claim in October when he said he was “pleased” we had “a record number of new homes built in the last year”.

However, charity Full Fact recently debunked this, saying they could not find “any evidence” to support such a claim.

In November last year, FullFact said: “Experts told us while recent building figures are higher than in some previous years, they’re generally far lower than records set decades ago.”

The PM made his latest comment in response to a question from Labour leader Keir Starmer who called on the PM to “bring back targets and planning reforms” or “duck that fight and let a generation down”.

Starmer said: “He introduced a tax on Shell and they haven’t paid a penny, fantastic work. If he was serious about investing in the future of the country, he’d start with housing.

“A few months ago his backbenchers forced him to scrap housebuilding targets. At the time, he stood there and said it would mean they would build more homes.

“Well would you believe it, a few months later the Home Builders Federation say house building is going to fall to its lowest level in 75 years.”

Shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray Tweeted: “He is very much like Johnson. Will say anything he knows to be false to get through PMQs.”

Helen Morgan, Lib Dem spokesperson for levelling up, said: “The government’s reckless use of numbers which have been proven incorrect time and time again is a stain on our democracy.

“The public has a right to expect truth at the ballot box, especially from the prime minister.

“Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to build 150,000 new social homes and ban no fault evictions to ensure everyone has a safe and secure home.”

However, mayor Sadiq Khan hit back, insisting his administration is building more homes than at any time “since records began”.

Downing Street directed us to a written statement from Sunak in which he said the Tories had delivered more than 2 million homes since 2010.

“I am happy to clarify that it was this Conservative government which oversaw the highest level of new homes delivered in over 30 years before the disruption of the pandemic, with 242,000 homes (a net increase in housing supply) delivered between April 2019 and March 2020,” he wrote.

“Furthermore, under this government the number of new homes started in England is at a near 15-year high, and has risen by 10% above pre-pandemic levels.

“This government knows that people are happier, more secure and more rooted in their communities when they own their own homes. That is why we are continuing to build on our record of delivering new homes, with housebuilding starts increasing by 140% between 2009 and 2022.”


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