Tensions building as lack of affordable homes is exposed
A housing crisis looms for a lost generation of young people, a charity has warned – amid a slump in new affordable properties.
Fewer than 1,900 were started in the West last year, which experts warn is far too few to meet demand.
The West has the nation's biggest gap between property prices and wages, meaning many young families are priced out of the market by wealthy incomers buying second homes.
So the need for affordable housing is critical, yet fewer than ten were begun in several West council areas, according to official Homes and Communities Agency figures.
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The statistics show no affordable homes were started in Herefordshire in 2011-12, and just seven in Tewkesbury, eight in North Dorset, ten in Gloucester and 15 in West Somerset.
Some of these areas, such as Tewkesbury and North Dorset, have especially high property prices, making it almost impossible for most young people to join the ladder.
Bristol saw just 66 affordable home starts, despite being the region's biggest city by far, and there were only 25 in Bath & North East Somerset and 101 in booming South Gloucestershire.
Wiltshire saw a total of 224, Swindon 168, Cheltenham 141 and North Somerset 134, but there were only 1,867 in the West as a whole.
Labour housing spokesman Jack Dromey said across England only 15,598 homes started were for affordable housing, a decrease of 68 per cent on the previous year.
"These figures reveal the true extent of the tragic failure of the Tory-led Government's housing and economic policies," he said. "The £4 billion cut to the affordable housing budget not only led to a disastrous 68 per cent collapse in affordable house building over the past year but hit the construction and house building industries hard, helping tip us back into double-dip recession. The Government was warned time and time again that its policies would make the housing crisis worse – locking families out of the housing market, fuelling rising rents in the private rented sector and leaving more people on housing waiting lists."
Mr Dromey added: "We would use a tax on bank bonuses to build up to 25,000 affordable homes, fund 100,000 youth jobs and get the economy going again."
The figures were published as a charity warned more and more people will be forced to stay living with their parents into their 30s.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps claimed there had been a big increase in affordable housing starts in the second part of the year.