Was it just a dream, or did I really hear about a New Labour plan resolve the housing affordability crisis by building millions of new homes?
If recent housing start data is any guide, the goal of affordable housing does have a dream-like quality. In the second quarter this year, English builders started just 33,400 new homes. That is a 19 percent decline compared to the same quarter in 2007.
The fall in private enterprise housing starts was even more dramatic. Private building starts were 27 per cent lower. In contrast, "Social Landlords" have been trying a little harder. Starts have risen 56 per cent over the same period and are now at their highest quarterly level in eleven years.
On an annual basis, English housing starts continue to decline. They totalled just 147,500 in the 12 months to June 2008, down by 12 per cent compared with the same period a year ago and almost 20 per cent below their 2005/06 peak.
So, we seem to be going backwards, and if it wasn't the increased public sector effort to build more homes, things would be really tight.
Thankfully, we don't have to rely on New Labour press releases anymore. The housing crash will ensure long term housing affordability.