Conservative Government Hasn't Built A Single Starter Home Since Pledging 200,000 Houses Four Years Ago

In 2015, the government made a promise to under-40s struggling to get on the housing ladder. Where are they?
Not one of the 200,000 promised starter homes has materialised.
Not one of the 200,000 promised starter homes has materialised.
Bogdanhoda via Getty Images

The Tory government has failed to build a single starter home more than four years after making a major pledge to build 200,000, a damning report has revealed.

An investigation by the National Audit Office (NAO), released on Tuesday, has revealed that the scheme – announced in March 2015 – had delivered zero affordable homes for under 40s trying to find a way onto the property ladder with a 20% discount.

In November 2015, former chancellor George Osborne said there would be £2.3 billion made available to support the creation of 60,000 starter homes. However, with the legislation to deliver the scheme still not approved in 2019, not one home had been delivered.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, described the scheme as “plainly a non-starter”. She added that the housing crisis wasn’t just down to the “government’s failure” on the scheme, but a lack of “desperately” needed social homes.

The NAO have accused the government of a failure to “focus on delivery”, and instead raised the hopes of the public before letting key pledges on housing slide.

Meg Hillier MP, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee, said: “Despite setting aside over £2 billion to build 60,000 new starter homes, none were built.

“Since 2010 many housing programmes announced with much fanfare have fallen away with money then recycled into the next announcement.

“The department needs to focus on delivery and not raise, and then dash, people’s expectations.”

Meanwhile, Shelter revealed on Tuesday that 91% of private renters in need of social housing are unable to get a property, and instead left on waiting lists for years on end.

Research carried out by YouGov, on behalf of Shelter, revealed that 24% of parents had cut back on food in order to afford rising rental costs, with 14% forced to skip meals altogether.

Neate added: “Social housing is what all political parties must focus on if we’re going to have any hope of solving the housing emergency.

“A commitment to build at least 90,000 social homes a year over the next parliament is their best shot at turning failure into success.”

In 2017, the government announced they had dropped their flagship pledge to build 200,000 starter homes by 2020, instead aiming to create 200,000 new homeowners through a broader range of measures, including loan guarantee schemes and opportunities to share ownership.

It was expected that the MHCLG would revive the starter homes scheme in 2019 by bringing the secondary legislation needed before parliament this year, the NAO said. However this has not yet materialised in the House of Commons.

When HuffPost UK asked why the secondary legislation had not been brought before parliament, a spokesperson MHCLG simply said the department was “committed to building more homes and supporting people into home ownership”.

The spokesperson added: “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.

“The number of first time buyers is currently at an 11-year annual high, and over 560,000 households have been helped into home ownership through government schemes like Help to Buy and Right to Buy.”

The government also pointed out that £250 million of the starter home fund had been spent on purchasing and preparing sites for development, with the rest of the the funding being used by Homes England to build more homes.

Data presented in NAO’s report showed that though the number of houses built had increased in England over recent years, total numbers had continued to be lower than the rate of housebuilding in 1980.

In 2018, a total of 135,000 private homes were built, 27,000 housing association homes, and just 3,000 were built by local authorities.


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