Page last updated at 23:23 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 00:23 UK

Housing crisis set to intensify, campaign warns

Houses
The NHF said 4.5m people are on housing waiting lists

The housing crisis in England is set to intensify, with insufficient numbers of homes having been built in every region since 2002, a campaign group has said.

The National Housing Federation said a record 4.5m people were on housing waiting lists and 2.5m people lived in overcrowded conditions.

Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said Labour's "house building-by-numbers policy" had "utterly failed".

But a government spokesman said housing had just received a £4.2bn investment.

The NHF said regional planning authorities had missed targets - agreed with government agencies - in 2008/09.

Failure to build the right number of homes across the country, means that thousands of households are needlessly being condemned to the misery of poor and unsuitable housing
David Orr
National Housing Federation

It said that over the whole period 2002/3-2008/9, London missed its published target by 32%, delivering 142,180 homes against an overall published target of 210,000.

The North East missed its target by 19% - delivering 47,000 homes against a target of 58,350 - while the South West missed its target by 18%, delivering 123,110 homes against a target of 150,823.

The region that came nearest to meeting its target across 2002/3-2008/9 was Yorkshire and Humberside, which built 100,830 homes against a target of 110,100.

'Depressing'

In the single year 2008/9, the region that missed its target by the biggest margin - 51% - was the North East, which delivered 4,540 homes against a published target of 9,270.

REGIONAL DELIVERY AGAINST TARGET 2002/03-2008/09
Yorkshire and Humberside - target 110,100, built 100,830
East Midlands - target 120,020, built 108,270
South East - target 210,300, built 186,290
West Midlands - target 113,960, built 97,750
East of England - target 163,890, built 139,020
North West - target 151,456, built 126,210
South West - target 150,823, built 123,110
North East - target 58,350, built 47,000
London - target 210,000, built 142,180

The East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside missed their targets for the year by 49% and 48% respectively.

The region that came nearest to meeting its target in 2008/9 was the South East, which built 27,830 homes against a target of 32,700, missing its target by 15%.

Federation chief executive David Orr said: "Through identifying housing need at a local level, regional planning authorities and government agencies set out how many homes they think can realistically be delivered to meet housing need in each region.

"Failure to build the right number of homes across the country means that thousands of households are needlessly being condemned to the misery of poor and unsuitable housing".

Mr Orr said the "depressing results" showed urgent action was required to get house building back on track.

He also urged ministers and the opposition parties to commit to protecting the current level of public spending on housing after the general election, saying failing to build the right number of homes now would "simply store up more problems for the future".

'Catastrophic failure'

A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Since June, Housing Minister John Healey has given the go-ahead for £4.2bn government investment for councils, housing associations and private developers to build over 75,000 much-needed new homes across the country".

The bulk had gone to housing associations and national housing federation members, he said.

He added that the government had been "increasing investment, kick-starting new housing projects and protecting jobs" to "keep the construction industry going in the current climate".

The housing minister has abandoned aspiration by dropping Labour's pledge of increasing home ownership and Brown's regional housing targets have utterly failed
Shadow housing minister
Grant Shapps

The downturn had caused a dramatic fall in private house building - down by 49% for 2008/09 compared with the previous year - whereas the number of starts by housing associations and local authorities in that time had actually increased by 18%, he said.

The government's ambition to build three million homes by 2020 "was a measure of the scale of housing need across the country and the challenge that still lies ahead," he added.

But shadow housing minister Grant Shapps said the NHF figures revealed a "catastrophic failure".

"The result is that fewer homes are being built now than during any peacetime period since 1924.

"The housing minister has abandoned aspiration by dropping Labour's pledge of increasing home ownership and Brown's regional housing targets have utterly failed.

"It's time to overhaul the planning system, reward house building with council tax match funding incentives and work with, rather than against local communities to get more done," he said.

Housing targets are currently drawn up by the regional assemblies - in London by the Mayor - in consultation with local authorities, government housing agencies and regional government offices.

The first targets were issued under the regional planning guidance system, but since 2004, targets have been increasingly set through regional spatial strategies.



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