Housing: supply and demand

6 October 2017
What was claimed

Theresa May hasn’t really increased the housing supply.

Our verdict

The number of houses being built has increased over the last decade, although it is difficult to attribute this to any one government. Overall house building isn’t keeping up with demand.

“And to tackle the housing crisis she’s [Theresa May] not really increased the supply of housing.”

BBC Question Time audience member, 5 October 2017

There are several ways of measuring housing supply, but none of them offer a very clear record of how many homes have been built under Theresa May’s government.

The best figures we have for housing supply only go up to March 2016. Theresa May became Prime Minister in July.

Housebuilding can also start under one government and be completed under another, so it is hard to tell how many homes have been built under any one government, and the UK government is only responsible for housing in England.

164,000 new homes were built in England in 2015/16. Once you count things like conversions and demolitions 190,000 homes became available that year, the highest since before the recession.

163,000 homes were started in 2016/17, which is the highest figure since 2007/08. From July 2016 to June 2017 (around the time Theresa May became Prime Minister) 165,000 homes were started. This is the highest figure for the July-June period since 2006/07.

But no recent government has seen enough homes built to keep up with demand.

This is based on two separate projections that England is going to have 210,000 extra households per year between 2014 and 2039, and that 240,000-250,000 homes need to be built each year to keep up with demand.

If this is correct, then the latest figure of 164,000 homes completed in 2015/16 falls well short of the number needed.

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