The Government do not make forecasts of house building, but we look carefully at what has happened in the past. In 2007 there were 178,000 housing starts. By 2009, the last full year of the previous Government, that had crashed to 78,340. In 2011, the first full year of the coalition Government, it had risen to 98,250—a rise of 25%.
I thank the Minister for that array of facts, but the Housing Minister said that the gold standard by which this Government would be judged was building more houses than Labour, yet, according to the recorded figures, in the first 18 months of this Government new housing completions are down 11% compared with the last 18 months of the Labour Government. Has the Minister devalued his own gold standard?
In 2011 the figure included 1,500 local authority starts. Interestingly, in 2009 there were only 150 local authority housing starts. Since September the Homes and Communities Agency has completed agreements on 112 social and affordable housing projects worth £1.6 billion. The first of the homes will start on site in April.