The Tories have dropped a flagship pledge to build 200,000 discount homes for first-time buyers by 2020.
Instead, they will aim to create 200,000 new homeowners through a broader range of measures, including loan guarantee schemes and opportunities to share ownership, it was revealed in a housing white paper on Tuesday.
Starter homes, available only to first-time buyers under 40, and priced at a discount of at least 20 percent of their market value, were a key part of the Tory manifesto in 2015.
Shadow Housing Minister John Healey accused the Government of “watering down” its promise to help people get a start in the housing market.
“This is a white flag not a white paper,” he said.
In 2015 former Prime Minister David Cameron said his promise to build the starter homes was a solution to the “quiet crisis” in housing affordability, and would help create “a Britain where everyone who works hard can have a home of their own.”
But a white paper published on Tuesday, entitled “Fixing our broken housing market”, said: “we will change our focus from starter homes to a wider range of affordable housing.”
“Through this wider range of Government programmes, we expect to help over 200,000 people become homeowners by the end of the Parliament.
“Starter homes will be an important part of this offer alongside our action to build other affordable home ownership tenures like shared ownership and to support prospective homeowners through Help to Buy and Right to Buy.”
Healey slammed the decision, accusing the Government of abandoning first-time buyers.
“The Tory manifesto promised to build 200,000 ‘starter homes’ by 2020, but three years on not a single one has been started. They pledged new shared ownership homes but last year saw the number fall by two-thirds since 2010,” he said.
“Now the white paper waters down the Tories’ promise to help people get a start in the housing market.
“This means fewer not more affordable homes for first-time buyers and less not more help for those on ordinary incomes who want a home of their own.”
Elsewhere in the document the Tories reaffirmed a manifesto promise to protect the greenbelt, which they said could only be built on “in exceptional circumstances”.
They also pledged to give councils powers to force developers to start building on land they own, and to make renting more secure, cracking down on the “worst landlords or agents”.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said:
“Starter Homes remain an important part of the Government’s commitment to getting people onto the housing ladder. We want to ensure that the right homes are built in the right places, with councils delivering Starter Homes as part of a mixed package of affordable housing that can respond to local needs.
“That includes our extra £1.4bn investment for our Affordable Homes Programme, taking total investment in this programme to over £7bn to build around 225,000 affordable homes in this Parliament.”