Lords Critical Of Government’s Housing Targets

The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has criticised the government’s housing targets, branding them ‘unrealistic.’

The government’s target of releasing land to build the equivalent of 160,000 homes was deemed an ‘aspirational’ target by the committee who had found actual numbers of released land to be around 100,000 units short of the target.

By March 2020, the committee suggested the Public Land for Housing Programme 2015-2020 were likely to have released land for 65,000 new homes.

The report was fairly scathing of the government’s current approaches and processes in setting targets. The committee claimed that when a target is made, there should be a steadfast expectation that the figures can and will be met.

The House of Lords members believed the current system to be ‘deeply troubling’ and that the original target was viewed by key stakeholders, including the then housing minister Esther McVey, who referred to the targets as ‘very ambitious,’ ‘incredibly high’ and ‘aspirational.’

The committee were also underwhelmed by the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the Regulations, claiming that “not for the first time, the government had provided insufficient information to gain a clear understanding about the broader context of the instrument’s policy objective and intended implementation of the policy of sale of public land for housing.”

Commenting Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, Chair of the Committee, said:

“When the Government state that they have set a ‘target’, they should have an expectation, based on a realistic assessment of the evidence, that it is achievable. If targets are nothing more than ‘aspirational’, how can we understand the real intentions of the Government and how can we call the Government to account for their performance measured against a so-called target?

“We were disappointed in this particular case that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government laid these Regulations with an Explanatory Memorandum which failed to explain clearly that the ‘target’ of capacity for 160,000 homes under the Public Land for Housing Programme 2015-2020 was simply “aspirational” and that there was likely to be a significant shortfall.

“We believe the House will want to consider these Regulations in the broader context of the Government’s policy of disposal of surplus public sector land for housing, and so have drawn them to the special attention of the House.”

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