On this issue, as on many, Labour has a problem with credibility. It was the party that allowed access to mortgages six, seven, eight times individuals’ salaries. It was a totally unsustainable path that contributed to the banking crisis that led to the deepest recession since the 1920s. Even in the boom years, it failed to deliver the required housing. The total build dropped to the lowest number in 100 years. It promoted eco-towns—10 in total—but not one appeared. New Labour at its finest: all spin and absolutely no delivery.
Not only did Labour fail to deliver the houses promised, having nearly bankrupted the country, it took the livelihoods of 250,000 construction workers and destroyed thousands of businesses by its actions. It talks about a cost-of-living crisis, but how many families did it break by its actions? How many meals did it take off the table by its actions? How many summer holidays were lost? How many more homeless people were created by its actions? Yet it never apologises. It always blames somebody else. It is the “Not me, guv!” party. In 2007, the number of housing completions reached 176,000. By 2010, that had dropped to 107,000—a drop of 70,000 houses in three years. That is what it achieved. That is what Labour did for housing in this country and that is why we are still putting things right.
As housing Minister, I have had the privilege of meeting mothers from Peckham who have secured a shared ownership home; a right-to-buy couple from Swindon who have now got their own home; a young couple who have a house as a consequence of help to buy; builders in Sheffield building houses yet again; and businesses and brick factories in Stoke, working flat out. We know that houses are important to the economy, which is why we are determined to deliver more of them.