2020 public land sales to be missed ‘by wide margin’

The government has been accused of extending the national housing crisis by failing to sell enough land for affordable and social housing.

Despite having ‘a once-in-a-generation opportunity to alleviate the nation's housing crisis’, the Public Accounts Committee has warned that the UK will miss its 2020 target of public land sales ‘by a wide margin’, and is currently wasting the opportunity it has in front of it.

Although the government claims to have delivered 222,000 new homes last year, the group of MPs have calculated that the government's land sale failure would result in 91,000 fewer homes in 2020 than anticipated, equivalent to 57 per cent of its overall target.

The committee says that programmes were not designed with a view to how many homes were needed of what type, and where - nor how the proceeds will be used - resulting in muddled thinking and unrealistic targets.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has not counted the number of houses built on the land being sold, including affordable and social housing, arguing that local authorities are responsible for this. The committee finds that it is ‘unacceptable’ that the department ‘pays so little attention to how the release of public land could be used to deliver affordable homes including social homes for rent’.

Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said: “The UK needs more houses. As a major land holder, the government is in a unique position to release land for new homes; and yet the objectives of its land disposal programmes are chaotic and confused.”

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