NICK Smith MP has called for a real plan for growth after latest figures revealed Blaenau Gwent’s housing business is grinding to a halt.

The figures, released by the National House Building Council, revealed only 13 new homes have been started in 2013 -; lagging well behind the UK average of 90.

The numbers had already fallen from 96 in 2011 (183 UK average) to 52 in 2012 (152 UK average), and Mr Smith said it was clear evidence the Government’s attempts to repair the economy were bypassing the likes of Blaenau Gwent.

“Housing companies are only going to build in areas where they can be confident there will be a demand to buy from the community”, he said.

“This is a true litmus test that despite the Tory claims that we are on the road to recovery, it is plain they are still not helping the places in real need.

“There need to be jobs to create a stable workforce with a range of skills being rewarded. Instead we have the growth of zero hour contracts and part-time work that only helps a community to survive, not thrive.”

The stagnation could also have an effect on the estimated 1,539 people dealing with the issues caused by the Bedroom Tax.

With housing associations reporting a chronic shortage of suitable housing for people to avoid the charges, it means the private sector is showing no signs of being able to pick up the slack.

“If the Government are to continue with policies such as the Bedroom Tax, then they must do everything they can to make sure the housing stock is available”, he said.

“But they are washing their hands of the responsibility and hiding behind their usual brand of politics by division.

“We have had three wasted years already -; there needs to be a real plan for growth and it needs to be now.”

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