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Senior Labour peer attacks Govt housing policy

A Labour peer and senior adviser to Ed Miliband has attacked Government housing policy saying it is based on “denial, bad economics and passing of the buck”.

Labour recently announced it intends to build 200,000 houses a year if it wins the election in May, roughly 80,000 more than is being built now.  

Speaking in the House of Lords yesterday, Lord Wood of Anfield said while house prices have risen by 10 per cent across the UK, leaked documents have revealed the Department for Communities and Local Government expects new housing starts to fall by 4 per cent this year. 

He said the Government must build more houses if it wants to help temper prices.

He said: “The list of those expressing serious concern about the impact of the UK housing market now includes the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Bank of England, Vince Cable, the deputy Prime Minister and the entire economics profession.

“Can the Minister explain why government housing policy seems to be based on a mixture of denial, bad economics and passing of the buck? What is their plan to do something about the UK’s chronic shortage of housing?”

Responding for the Government, the Treasury’s spokesman in the upper chamber Lord Newby said there had been a “major crash” in house building after the financial crisis but that it was now recovering. He said building starts had risen from 17,000 in Q1 of 2009 to 36,000 in Q1 of this year.

He said: “There is a chronic problem in housing. We are beginning to tackle it by programmes that support people buying their own home, liberalising planning and providing support for small to medium-sized house builders. This is not going to be an easy fix for a Government of any colour.”

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