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Government slammed for failing to build starter homes

The Conservative government has so far failed to deliver any of the 200,000 starter homes it promised to build by 2020, according to an official watchdog.

A new report out today (5 November) by the National Audit Office (NAO) concludes that not only have no starter homes been built, but also that the necessary legislation is still not in place, either.

In April 2015, the Conservative Party manifesto promised to build 200,000 starter homes, which would be sold at a 20% discount and will be built exclusively for first-time buyers under the age of 40.

The November 2015 Spending Review subsequently provided £2.3 billion to support the delivery of 60,000 starter homes, of the 200,000 previously announced.

The Housing and Planning Act (2016) set out the legislative framework fo starter homes and the Department ran a consultation on necessary regulations between March and June 2016.

But the NAO report notes that between 2015 and 2018, government’s policy towards starter homes shifted.

In May 2018, the Minister of State for Housing and Planning stated that the government had spent an estimated £250 million of the Starter Homes Land Fund.

But in July 2018, the Whitehall department clarified that it had spent £250 million buying land to build affordable properties from two funds, the Starter Homes Land Fund and the Land Assembly Fund, with work under way to get the land ready for development, but that building had not yet started.

The report also notes that while the statutory framework for starter homes, the Housing and Planning Act (2016), received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016, although the relevant sections of the Act have not yet come into force.

It says the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government was expected to introduce the secondary legislation and planning guidance required for starter homes in 2019 but it is yet to lay the regulations in Parliament.

Labour’s Shadow housing secretary, John Healey said the scheme has been a ‘total failure’.

‘Conservative ministers pledged in 2015 to build 200,000 cut-price homes for first-time buyers, but the National Audit Office confirms they haven’t built a single one, despite wasting four years and spending millions of pounds,’ added Mr Healey.

An MHCLG spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to building more homes and supporting people into home ownership. We have a great track record and house building is at its highest level for all but one of the last thirty years – with 222,000 homes delivered last year, and 1.3 million in total since 2010, including over 430,000 affordable homes.’

Photo Credit – Jarmoluk (Pixabay)

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