Labour pledges 200,000 homes a year

An incoming Labour government would make housebuilding a priority and commit to building 200,000 homes a year by 2020, Ed Balls said this week.

Speaking at the NHBC’s annual lunch, the shadow chancellor said Labour would also support the building of new towns with infrastructure guarantees, as he claimed the coalition’s plans for garden cities had stalled.

He said his party backed the Help to Buy scheme, although he said it should not be available for homes as expensive as £600,000 or for people looking to remortgage their homes.

Balls caused a minor stir in the audience by claiming that Labour had a “zero homes policy” instead of a “zero carbon policy”.

In any case, many in the industry, while welcoming the pledge, said it did not go far enough.

NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said: “Mr Balls is right to say that we are not building enough homes to meet demand. The Labour policy to build 200,000 new homes a year is clearly a positive step in the right direction, however many within the industry believe we will need to exceed this to meet the housing needs of the country.”

Last week LSL Property Services also made a call for 200,000 more homes a year to be built. But this week commercial director David Brown said that would be “only the start of a more sustainable future for housing”.

He said: “Mortgages are not houses. While Help to Buy is already proving a vital step up the ladder for thousands, millions more households are seeing the first rung of that ladder get higher. Rents are now rising more slowly than wider inflation, which is some breathing space. However in future, whether renting or buying, housing is only going to become pricier until there’s more of it.”

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