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Prescott revises down future household numbers

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Deputy pm John Prescott has forecast a fall in the rate of growth of household numbers in England, predicting an increase of only 3.8 million by 2021.

The figure surprised many experts, who expected it to top 5 million, based on the prediction of an extra 4.4 million households by 2016. Prescott used the announcement to 'bury once and for all 'predict and provide'. In its place we will allow planning authorities to project upwards and downwards. The green belt will be as stringently protected as before; we have created 30,000ha since we came to office. Policies, not figures, should drive the debate.'

The latest projection means the number of households will grow from 20.2 million in 1996 to 24 million in 2021. The drop in household growth from 175,000 to 150,000 a year is partly down to increased rates of cohabitation.

The South-east tops the regional league table for growth, with 900,000 more households expected by 2021. London will have an extra 600,000, and the North-east will have 100,000 more.

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