The rise and fall of council housing was charted by The Guardian at the foot of an article about local authority house building published on Saturday March 25th 2017 [https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/mar/25/how-one-council-is-beating-britain-housing-crisis-sheffield].

The graph shows how local authority housebuilding peaked in the post-war period around 1950 while private enterprise building took longer to respond and peaked in the late 1960s.  However, even with a few peaks and troughs council houses have never been built on that scale since and plummeted in the 1980s with negligible numbers built since the mid 1990s.  By comparison private building, while fluctuating significantly and despite taking a severe hit in 2008, has never fallen below 100,000 in any year since the mid 1950s.

Some notable dates in The Guardian’s article:

  • 1954 Local authority building hit a peak of 239,580 in 1954.
  • 1979 40% of the British population are living in local authority housing.
  • 1980 Conservative government brings in ‘the right to buy’ – many tenants buy their council homes and limits are put on council borrowing for building new ones.
  • 2004 Building houses by local authorities falls to a low of 130 homes in the UK.
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