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Govt hails affordable housing success

The government has hailed the success of its housebuilding programme after revealing over 200,000 affordable homes have been provided in England since April 2010.Some £19.5 billion of public and private funding has been invested in the Affordable Homes Programme, leading to the construction of 132,000 of the 170,000 planned properties. This contrasts with the situation between 1997 and 2010, when the number of social rented homes dropped by 420,000. Social housing tenants are also benefiting from the reinvigorated Right to Buy scheme, the government announced. Some 31,500 households have taken advantage of the scheme since April 2010, including 22,600 council tenants.Some 24,100 of these people were able to exercise their Right to Buy since April 2012, when the increased discounts were introduced. In contrast, between 2008 and 2010 only 7,000 households benefited from the programme.Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: "[These] figures are a clear sign of the government’s long-term economic plan in action, with affordable homes being delivered across England."Since 2010 we've delivered 204,000 new affordable homes. And, thanks to our reinvigorated Right to Buy, social housing tenants who once saw home ownership as being out of reach are now getting their chance to take their first steps onto the property ladder."Housing is likely to be a key battleground in the run-up to the 2015 general election, and the government's latest announcements came shortly after Labour leader Ed Miliband put forward proposals aimed at ensuring local people are accorded priority in the market.Mr Miliband pledged to give local authorities new powers to designate Housing Growth Areas and restrict the sale of homes as buy-to-let or buy-to-leave empty properties. He said these powers would help to meet the party's commitment to building 200,000 new homes a year by 2020.However, his comments were immediately criticised by the Conservatives, who claimed Labour would impose bureaucratic constraints that would reduce the rate of housebuilding. 

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