Scathing Report Claims Government Will Fall Short Of Housing Targets

The Government has been accused of severe failures which will prevent the UK from hitting their new housing targets in both 2020 and 2025.

By the end of next year, the government had hoped to be in a position of building 160,000 new homes per year with this rising to 300,000 by around 2025.

However, MPs involved with the recently published Public Accounts Committee report into the sale of public land bombarded current government departments with a scathing attack into current policy and approaches.

Disappointingly, the report exposed the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) incompetence by suggesting it will miss out on its target to release land for 160,000 new homes by a ‘wide margin’.

In fact, the 91,000 home estimate by the end of 2020 is only a mere 57% of the government’s self-imposed target and will see a shortfall of 69,000 desperately needed new homes.

In part, the review suggested that the government were always going to miss their targets by suggesting their prediction methods and procedures were nowhere near robust or rigorous enough. The committee accused the Government of lacking a ‘rigorous evidence base’ when setting their ‘unrealistic’ targets.

It was also thought that the government’s ‘loose definitions’ of what it considers to be a new home has artificially inflated the overall number of built homes since 2011. This could mean that the 40,500 new homes built since 2011 (already considered insufficient) could well be a considerably smaller total.

Despite recommendations being made in previous reports, the committee were ‘concerned’ with the ‘slow progress’ being made in collecting data on affordable homes which could impeded their understanding of how many are realistically needed in the future.

National Housing Federation estimates claim England need 340,000 new homes to be built until 2031 if it is to meet the backlog of demand. 90,000 of these homes should be set aside for social rent.

However, the Public Accounts Committee’s 110th report into the sale of public land infers that this ambition is far from being realised and the housing crisis is slipping further into the quagmire.

The Public Accounts Committee summarised their findings by claiming:

“The UK is in the grip of a housing crisis, with a severe shortage in some areas of affordable homes specifically social homes for rent. Despite these pressing issues, the Government has failed to use its position as a major landowner to develop and execute an effective strategy to meet land disposal targets.

“We are incredibly disappointed that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government will miss its target for releasing land for new homes by such a wide margin. By the end of the programme, the Department estimates it will have failed to sell the land needed for 91,000 of the homes promised under the target, equivalent to 57% of the overall target.

“This target was clearly unrealistic from the outset and, as we were concerned to discover during the inquiry, lacked a sufficient and rigorous evidence base when it was originally set.

“The Cabinet Office is expected to achieve its proceeds target, despite almost all departments being on course to miss their individual targets. However, this is because of one big unplanned sale that contributed almost £1.5 billion of the £5 billion target. It is unacceptable for the outcomes of these crucial programmes to be reliant upon luck instead of judgement.

“Yet again, the government did not help itself by having muddled objectives at the outset.

“Government is optimistic that changes it has made will lead to improvements in the delivery of land disposals, but we are very concerned to see slow progress in areas we highlighted in previous reports, particularly the collection of data on affordable homes.

“We remain frustrated that the release of public land is not translating into enough actual homes for those that need them. Despite just 40,500 homes having been built since 2011, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s unacceptably loose definition of what constitutes a new home has artificially inflated the number of new homes that have been created.”

A MHCLG spokesperson commented:

“We have an urgent mission to build more homes for the next generation so they can realise the dream of home ownership.

“Last year saw us deliver 222,000 new homes, more than in all but one of the last 31 years.

“Government departments have identified enough surplus public sector land for 160,000 new homes and our development accelerator Homes England is providing expert assistance to get these built more quickly.”

How will this housing shortage impact the conveyancing sector? How important is new build property to the property market?

The full report can be found here.

Today's Conveyancer