Housebuilding targets “in jeopardy”, MPs warn

The government’s pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year is “in jeopardy” due to the lack of a clear delivery plan, an influential group of cross-party MPs have claimed.

The government has promised to dramatically increase the level of housebuilding from an average of 177,000 a year in the period between 2005 and 2017 to 300,000 a year by the mid 2020s, but MPs on the Public Accounts Committee have cast serious doubts over the credibility of these plans.

MPs are calling on the government to produce detailed year-on-year projections for how it will ramp up housebuilding and asked ministers to explain the rationale for setting the target at 300,000 new homes, when more recent government figures suggest only 265,000 new homes a year are needed.

The committee warns that fewer than half of local authorities have an up-to-date plan setting out the housing priorities in their area and calls on the government to take a “carrot and stick” approach of both support and penalties.

It says local authorities are also finding it hard to force developers to contribute their required share of infrastructure costs and has urged the government to monitor these agreements closely and report back.

MPs also called for improvements to the “poor performance” of the Planning Inspectorate which takes average of 38 weeks to determine planning appeals, prompting housebuilding delays.

The group has asked the government to set out full details of the types and tenures of affordable housing that it intends to build within its overall housing targets by October.

The committee raised serious concerns about the quality and design of new-build homes and the Prime Minister is setting out plans to address these criticisms in a speech later today.

Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier says: “Progress against the government’s annual new house building target is way off track and currently shows scant chance of being achieved.

“The government has set itself the highly ambitious target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s – levels not seen since World War two – even though there is no clear rationale for this figure and the Ministry themselves say only 265,000 new homes a year are needed.

“Government needs to get a grip and set out a clear plan if it is not to jeopardise these ambitions.”

She adds: “Poor performance by the Planning Inspectorate in reviewing appeals has also added to delays.

“There is also a collective failure to ensure developers contribute fairly for infrastructure.”

Minister of state for housing Kit Malthouse says the government is determined to deliver on its promised targets.

He adds: “We’re committed to building more, better and faster, including £44bn of funding and guarantees to support more homes, reforming the planning system to free up more land, and removing the cap on how much councils can borrow to build.

“We’re making real progress, last year delivering more new homes than in all but one of the last 31 years.”

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