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Tory councils falling behind on social housing

New social housing in Conservative-run councils is being built at a fifth of the rate in Labour councils, an investigation by the opposition claims.

And in Welwyn Hatfield, the constituency of housing minister Grant Shapps, only three social homes will be built by the end of the Parliament in 2015.

The Labour party sent freedom of information requests to 324 local councils, of which 246 responded. The findings showed that Conservative councils were building a fifth as many social homes as Labour authorities, while the Liberal Democrat councils were about half.

25 London boroughs replied to the Labour FOI requests, in which 4,000 social homes are planned by 2015. Islington had plans to build 708 social homes, while Leeds planned 387 and Birmingham 338 by 2015.

There are now almost five million people on social housing waiting lists, with the capital grant for social housing cut by 63 per cent after the last election. Last year saw 3,305 new housing starts for social rent, compared to 35,690 the year before.

Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn told the BBC’s Today programme that it was “about time Eric Pickles reduced the number of housing announcements that we have and increased the number of houses.”

She added: “Who is making an improvement to the housing crisis that we’ve got? The answer is pretty strikingly Labour councils.”

A DCLG spokesman said: “This Government is delivering £19.5 billion of funding to build 170,000 more affordable homes across the country, and has introduced a comprehensive package of reforms to get empty homes back into productive use.”

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