Labour's affordable housing record

26 April 2017
What was claimed

The number of social rented homes fell by 420,000 under Labour.

Our verdict

This refers to all homes rented from councils and housing associations. We don’t know what exactly happened to homes for the cheapest “social rent” specifically under Labour, but more of them were built on average between 1997 and 2010 than since 2010.

“The number of social rented homes under a Labour government fell by 420,000.”

Theresa May, 26 April 2017

The Prime Minister was referring here to the stock of homes rented from councils and housing associations, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

It’s correct that between 1997 and 2010 this fell by around 420,000 from 4.4 million to just under four million. This is due to a larger decrease in the number of council houses than the increase in the number of housing association homes available for rent.

There were still around four million homes provided by councils and housing associations in 2016, although the stock had increased by around 76,000 since 2010.

What that increase in the total availability of social housing may mask is a slowdown in provision of the very cheapest homes—those available at a 'social rent' of around half the market rate.

Between 1997/98 and 2009/10 around 363,000 new homes for social rent were made available, an average of around 28,000 a year. Since 2010/11 there have been around 122,000 made available, an average of around 20,000 a year.

These figures tell us about the number of new homes for social rent becoming available. What about the existing stock of those homes?

We don't have figures going back far enough to compare Labour with the Conservatives, but we can see that the number fell between 2012/13 and 2015/16.

The number of homes for social rent owned by councils fell from almost 1.7 million to 1.6 million over the three-year period. That's a loss of almost 77,000 homes. The number of homes let by housing associations for the equivalent of social rent also went down. There were over 2.13 million in 2012/13 compared to 2.12 million in 2015/16, around 10,000 fewer.

Update 24 May 2017

We added more information about homes for social rent over the last few years.

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