The Homes and Communities Agency has announced that the number of "affordable housing starts" for 2011-2012 was just 15,698 - a 68% fall on the previous year.
The BBC's home affairs editor Mark Easton explained that two-thirds of Englishmen still live with their parents and "you need to find places for those people to live".
Housing minister Grant Shapps said he believed the government is "confidently on track" to build 170,000 new affordable homes by 2015.
Speaking to the Today programme he said "we absolutely know for sure that we have the diggers on the ground".
And Mr Shapps added that the previous government left "a net loss of 421,000 social homes for rent in the UK".
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