My right hon. Friend is prescient in all things, and his Freudian slip is absolutely right: Labour has a non-economic plan and it is not going to work. I do not think that they will get a chance to use it.
The Budget will also ensure that our economic recovery continues to benefit every area of the country. Some claim, as we have heard this morning, that London and the south-east are reaping all the rewards, but that is nonsense. Nowhere is generating jobs faster than the north-west, and Yorkshire is creating more jobs than the whole of France. Our French friends may have given us liberté, fraternité and égalité, but my old home county is providing creativity, industry and Yorkshire Tea.
Our economy is growing because this Government understand what makes the economy tick. We believe that all growth is local and that local people are best placed to make decisions about their area. That is especially true where we have improved planning and increased house building. Labour’s top-down housing targets trampled on the democratic wishes of local communities and built nothing but resentment. Majestic promises of eco-towns never got beyond the paper they were written on. We have taken a more practical approach: rather than relying on the long arm of Whitehall, we are trusting councils and communities to make their own decisions about planning and housing and to steer new developments towards the right location. The result is growing public support for new housing, which has almost doubled over the past four years. More than 700,000 new homes have been delivered since the beginning of 2010 and house building is now at its highest level since 2007. Last year, locally led planning systems gave permission for 253,000 homes across England.
There is always more to do. We want to increase significantly the number of homes we build, to sustain economic growth and support the aspirations of hard-working families. Instead of dictating change, we are helping local areas that want to build more homes and boost growth. That will include supporting the development of locally led garden towns in communities such as Bicester, Basingstoke and Northamptonshire. Together, they will deliver nearly 40,000 new homes.
We have appointed board members to oversee Ebbsfleet’s urban development corporation, and marketing will begin on the key Northfleet embankment site. The new garden city on the Thames estuary will provide up to 15,000 new homes, create opportunities for businesses and generate thousands of jobs. We have also given the green light to 20 housing zones across the country and will continue to work with eight other bids. Together with 20 planned zones in London, these will support the delivery of nearly 100,000 homes all on brownfield land. That is exactly where the public want to see new housing so that we can protect our precious green belt and our beautiful countryside.