Building 300,000 homes per year is ‘impossible’, MPs told

The government’s target of building 300,000 new homes per year is “impossible to achieve”, according to a new report.

While the government is on track to deliver one million new homes throughout the current Parliament, it is not forecast to deliver 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s, MPs have been told.

The findings are part of a new report published by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee. 

In December 2022, Rishi Sunak’s government ensured that the new legislation aimed at boosting housing and infrastructure would make clear that the promise to build 300,000 homes every year by the mid-2020s was only a “starting point” and would be “advisory”.

However, the Committee said its inquiry into the policy change had seen it told that the six-figure target would be “impossible to achieve”.

The 44-page report states that the government has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate how the policy of scrapping mandatory local housing targets will directly lead to more housebuilding.

“The government’s reform proposals include making local housing targets advisory and removing the need for local authorities to continually demonstrate a deliverable five-year housing land supply,” the report says.

“We have heard evidence from many stakeholders that these measures will render the national housing target impossible to achieve.”

Clive Betts, the Labour chairman of the cross-party panel of MPs, said the downgrade of the target’s status was “already having a damaging impact on efforts to increase the building of new homes”.

“We have a national shortage of housing in England,” Betts said. “People are facing rising housing costs. Housing affordability is a major issue. For our economy and for communities across the country, it’s crucial the government takes urgent action to encourage the building of more homes.

“Without urgent action, the government will fail to achieve its national housing target of building 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s.”

According to the report, under the government’s proposed policy reforms, annual housebuilding is expected to go down to around 150,000 a year, in what Betts called “deeply concerning” for people wanting to get on the housing ladder. 

Last week, housing secretary Michael Gove told the Local Government Association’s conference the government remained “committed” to delivering 300,000 houses annually.

He stated the need to ensure the quality of homes, not just the quantity, highlighting how UK housing targets were met in the 1950s but that some of that stock was “now affected by damp, by mould and by dilapidation that actually puts people’s lives at risk”.

A March report from Make UK Modular found that, without changes to building methods, almost a million new construction workers would be needed to meet the government’s target. 

Over the last few years, the government has been unable to meet this target. In 2019-20 there were just 242,700 net additional dwellings, which fell to 216,490 in 2020-21, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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