Gordon Brown’s claim that there was a shortage of housing in the UK was undermined yesterday by a raft of experts who pointed to a flood of empty flats in most city centres.

The prime minister said on Monday that the UK would not suffer a housing crash similar to the US or Spain because, he argued, it had not overbuilt to the same extent.

But Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said there had been huge amounts of overdevelopment in parts of the country. “There are certain areas of supply which are now lying unwanted on the shelf. There are a lot of unwanted properties on the market... there is definitely an overhang,” he said.

Alistair Stewart, housebuilding analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort, said the idea that Britain was undersupplied with housing was 'one of the biggest chestnuts of our times'.

Financial Times