Manifesto clash: recent housebuilding

Published: 4th May 2015

"House building is at its highest since 2007" - Conservative manifesto

"We will make sure that at least 200,000 homes a year get built by 2020—almost double the current level" - Labour manifesto

"[We] restored house building from record lows to nearly 150,000 a year" - Liberal Democrat manifesto

These claims about the numbers of homes being built at the moment are generally correct, although they vary a lot in what they're looking at—and where.

The Liberal Democrat claim seems to be based on housing starts. In 2009 around 114,000 homes began construction in the UK, which is the lowest since at least the late 1970s (when these figures begin). In 2013, the figure was almost 150,000.

So Labour's implied claim that current house building levels are around 100,000 per year wouldn't stack up on that interpretation. Similarly, in terms of homes actually completed, there were 138,000 built UK-wide in 2013.

The opposition's figures come about right if you look at homes completed in 2013 in England only, when about 119,000 received their final lick of paint.

There's some merit to talking about England specifically: housing is a devolved matter, so the Coalition government in Westminster doesn't have much power over house building in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The Conservative claim is accurate for housing starts in both England and the wider United Kingdom. In 2007, there were 234,000 housing starts in the UK. The 2013 figure is 149,000, the highest in any year since 2007.

In England alone, 137,000 homes began construction last year—again, better than any year since before the financial crisis.


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