One year after taking back the reins of Worcester City Council, the Conservative group in Worcester has announced a record delivery of affordable homes for 2014/15 and is looking forward to another bumper year in 2015/16. The combination of a rising market for housing, tough policies to ensure developers must deliver more affordable homes, help from the Government and a streamlined planning process have brought forward more new affordable homes than in any year since 1997.

The 260 new affordable homes delivered in the last financial year is a record for Worcester in any year since at least 1997 and is more than treble the number delivered in 2013/14, Labour’s one year in control of the Council in recent times. It includes an exceptionally large contribution from the Government at 179 homes funded by the Homes and Communities Agency and around 70 through the planning system.

The figures will come as an embarrassment for Worcester’s Labour and Liberal Democrat parties who joined forces to depose the Conservatives from control of Worcester City Council in 2013 promising a greater focus on affordable homes only to deliver a 30% reduction during their one year in office.

Labour councillors have already spoken out to argue that as planning can take “years to deliver”, they feel it is unfair to look at their record of delivery rather than the increase through the planning system. However the number of homes gained through planning and section 106 commitments rose from just 49 to 70 in the last year, whereas the numbers delivered through direct Government funding, from the Conservative Government increased from 24 to 179 (also a record figure, narrowly beating the 167 homes delivered through Government funding in 2008/9). Worcester’s MP has also pointed out that if planning takes “years” to deliver, then many of the homes delivered in 2014/15 will have been planned by the Conservative council before Labour took control. It has also been pointed out that the large increase in affordable homes in 2014/15 included the regeneration of Dines Green, planned under a Conservative administration before 2013.

In addition, the current year, after a year of the Conservative control of the council, looks to be a much stronger one in terms of planning for affordable homes with 150 targeted to be delivered by this method, according to the latest predictions from Worcester City Council. Worcester expects to see at least 190 affordable homes in total for 2015/16 which would make it the second strongest year on record for delivery.

The contrast between the track records of the respective parties is clear for all to see. Labour always talk about affordable homes but when they controlled both the council and the Government of the UK between 1997 and 2001 they delivered fewer than 2% affordable homes and an average of just 20 per year. As soon as the Conservatives took over the Council the numbers started to rise and Robin has previously pointed out that between 2001 and 2005 the figure rose to 84 per year, between 2005 and 2009 to an average of 148 per year and between 2009 and 2013 it was around 106. When Labour again took control the number delivered fell by 30% to 76 before rising again under the Conservatives. This means that in the seventeen years since 1997 the average delivery for affordable homes under Labour was just 32 in their four years in office compared to a Conservative average of 121 per year over thirteen years, more than three times the rate. Just as importantly the latest figures are the highest in that whole period and projections show that the progress will be continued into next year.

Commenting on the figures, Robin said

“There can no longer be any doubt that the Conservative administration in Worcester is delivering better numbers of affordable housing than Labour ever did. I recognise there are some quibbles about who planned for what, but on every metric, the current administration is outperforming its predecessors. It is good to see new homes available for affordable rent in the city and also more homes becoming available for affordable ownership. More and more people are being helped by the delivery of new homes alongside central government priorities such as help to buy.”

“It is deeply ironic that the Liberal Democrats brought down the Conservative administration back in 2013 partly due to a promise from Labour to deliver more affordable homes. They should have checked their abysmal record when they previously ran the council. Although their one year coalition damaged the delivery of affordable housing even during an economic recovery, it is good to see that it is now firmly back in track.”

“Most importantly as the House of Commons debates Housing this week, we have firm evidence that Worcester can and will deliver more affordable homes. I want to see this progress continue which is why I will be supporting legislation to deliver new starter homes, more building on brownfield sites and more opportunities for self-build. Both in building new affordable homes and in supporting home ownership, this Conservative Government can and must deliver, just as the Conservatives on Worcester City Council have been delivering in recent years.”

Notes to editors

The latest figures for affordable housing from Worcester City Council read:

Year 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 Anticipated 2015/16
Sec 106 55 49 70 150
HCA funded 56 24 179 30
Other (RP) 6 3 11 10
Housing numbers achieved 117 76 260 190

For a year by year breakdown of new affordable housing compiled from CLG & City Council data see:

Year Total affordable housing units delivered in Worcester City
1997/98 22
1998/99 11
1999/00 19
2000/01 28
2001/02 89
2002/03 44
2003/04 84
2004/05 120
2005/06 179
2006/07 126
2007/08 121
2008/09 166
2009/10 150
2010/11 34
2011/12 88
2012/13 117
2013/14 76
2014/15 260
2015/16 est 190

Colours represent the political leadership of Worcester City Council in each year
Average per year over 4 years of Labour Control = 32
Average per year over 13 years of Conservative Control = 121
For previous figures see Robin’s analysis here: