“Tory ministers decided not to spend £72 million set aside to build affordable homes because it was “no longer required”, despite the housing crisis gripping Britain.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid was forced to “surrender” the cash and send it back to the treasury, as part of £817 million his department failed to spend last year.
Some 115 million people are on council waiting lists in England, almost a quarter of whom are in London.
But a government memo, explaining the department’s underspend to the Treasury, states: “Part of the funding allocation for the Affordable Housing programme has not been required in 2017/18.”
The document also notes that the £817 million figure – much of which would have been intended for social or affordable homes – will now be spent on funding the Help to Buy programme.
In 2016-17, just 41,530 affordable homes were built, the second lowest figure for a decade.
The majority of affordable homes are so-called ‘affordable rent’, where the monthly rent is set at up to 80% of private market rent.
The number of cheaper, “social rent” houses built each year has plummeted from 39,560 in 2010-11 – the year the new “affordable rent” definition was introduced – to just 5,380 last year.
Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary, John Healey said: “Feeble ministers are selling families short by surrendering much-needed cash for new homes.
“If the Secretary of State can’t defend his Department’s Budget from the Treasury he should give the job to someone who can.”
A DCLG spokesperson said: “We are delivering the homes our country needs and since 2010 we have built over 357,000 new affordable properties.
“But we are determined to do more and we are investing a further £9bn, including £2bn to help councils and housing associations build social rent homes where they are most needed.”