So how is York’s house building programme going?

Figures on increased rent levels in the City have prompted a flurry of political comment.

The comments come in the wake of figures produced by Zoopla which claims that average York rents are now around £945 a month; meaning that 35% of a York residents income would be eaten up by housing costs.

The company quotes Leeds as a comparator where rents average £792. In reality rents in places like Harrogate are higher than those found in York.

Predictably Labour politicians have pointed the figure of blame at the LibDem/Green run council for not building enough homes. The local MP has joined in, though her grasp of housing facts still seems to rely on exaggeration

The phrase “people in glass houses etc”. springs to mind.

The lowest house building numbers of modern times coincided with the period when Labour last had control of the York Council.

The highest number (1629) was achieved when the Council was under LibDem control in 2008. The lowest (321) was under Labour in 2012.

Labour’s record is somewhat better on “affordable” home building, but they still trail the LibDem performance. (Full figures for the last financial year are not yet available.) .

The truth of the matter is, that local authorities have relatively little influence on overall house building numbers. The state of the economy and central government policies are the main drivers.

The 654 homes built in the City last year represented a sound performance against a background of the pandemic together with labour and materials shortages.

The provision of more affordable homes to rent will depend on the willingness of the Council to fully embrace municipal housing That is the way ahead and will offer more to renters than any number of risky common ownership projects, some of which have not produced a single new home despite allocated sites lying empty for over 4 years,.

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