25,720 new dwellings completed in South East in 2016/17, only 5,410 are social housing, way below target to meet demand

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25,720 new dwellings have been completed in South East in 2016/17 of which only 5,410 are social housing units, way below target to meet demand new GMB Southern study shows.

Population growth combined with the failure of the housebuilders and social housing providers to complete enough new homes has led to sky high house prices and ballooning private rents which are not sustainable says GMB Southern region

In England, 148,000 new dwellings were completed in 2016/17 with only 18% of those built for the social housing sector new GMB study shows.

In the South East, out of 25,720 dwellings completed, 21% (5,410) were for the social housing sector.

There were 4,850 dwellings completed in Kent in 2016/17 of which 1,220 homes were in the social sector or 25.2% of the total completed. This puts Kent at the top of the league for new homes in the South East.

Next comes Hampshire with 4,330 dwellings completed, 1,200 (27.7%) of which were in the social sector followed by West Sussex with 3,110 dwellings, 640 (20.6%) of which were in the social sector, Oxfordshire with 3,090 dwellings, 760 (24.6%) in the social sector and Surrey with 2,760 dwellings, 540 (19.6%) in the social sector.

Slough completed the least number of dwellings with 130, 20 (15.4%) being in the social sector, followed by Brighton and Hove with 140 dwellings, none of which were in the social sector, Medway completing 220 dwellings, 60 (27.3%) in the social sector, Southampton with 240, 20 (8.3%) in the social sector and the Isle of Wight completing 270 dwellings, none in the social sector.

Bracknell Forest, Windsor and Maidenhead, Brighton and Hove and the Isle of Wight failed to complete a single social housing dwelling in 2016/17.

The table below shows total dwellings completed and dwellings completed by Housing Associations and Local Authorities ranked by total dwellings compiled by GMB Southern region, see notes to editors for sources and definitions.

Paul Maloney, GMB Southern regional secretary, said

“GMB Congress in 2014 called for the Government to set a target of 250,000 new homes per year of which 80,000 should be social housing with affordable rents, to meet the pent up demand for new homes across the country.

“These figures for all homes completed in 2016/17 are less than 60% of the target and social housing completions are less than 34% of the target.

“The figures for each area in the South East are equally falling well below the numbers needed to meet pent up demand for new homes.

“The growth in the population in the region combined with the failure of the house building sector and social housing providers to complete enough new homes has led to sky high house prices and ballooning private rents. This is not sustainable.

“It is high time that Government enabled local councils to build council houses for rent. That is the only way that the social housing targets can be met. This is now a priority as it is the only way that the lower paid workers across the region can get more affordable housing. The Labour Parliamentary Party has to fight to get the Government to act on this.
“The decisions of the Thatcher government in the 1980’s to sell council housing stock, and not replace it, and to pay landlords housing benefit instead of providing social housing directly has been a huge and expensive mistake.

“Last year, for example, £24 billion was spent on housing benefit, with much of this public money ending up untaxed in bank accounts in offshore tax havens. If a fraction of that amount had been spent on building social housing for rent, the strain on the tax payer would be less and people would have housing they can afford to live in.

“These mistakes need to be corrected and corrected quickly.”

Contact: Paul Maloney 07901343839; Michelle Gordon on 07866 369259 or GMB Southern Office on 020 8397 8881
Notes to editors:
1) Source: Table 253 Housebuilding: permanent dwellings started and completed, by tenure and district, 2016-17; Department for Communities and Local Government
2) In principle, a dwelling is regarded as completed when it becomes ready for occupation or when a completion certificate is issued whether it is in fact occupied or not. The figures are for new build dwellings only, they are not net gain figures as they do not take into account number of social housing units demolished.
3) A dwelling is a single self-contained household space or two or more household spaces at the same address that are not self-contained but combined to form a shared dwelling that is self-contained. Examples are houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes and bedsits.
4) Main points in GMB policy on Housing in report that was adopted by Congress 2014:
Using expensive private sector landlords funded by taxpayers to provide houses for rent needs to be phased out.
The country needs a target for new build homes of 250,000 per year plus a minimum of 30,000 empty homes brought back into use. At least 80,000 of the target need to be in the social housing sector. This cannot be done without a major programme of council house building.
GMB Congress called for strategic changes in policy to deliver this ambitious target as follows:
All Housing Policy and resources for England focussed in one Whitehall Department
A long Term Plan to switch over 20 year Government support from Housing Benefit to New Build and improvement
Establishment of City Region level Housing Delivery Bodies with equivalent bodies in Devolved Administrations and for Rural Housing
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