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Column 16th December 2020

Housing Policies not fit for purpose says MPs

Last week the Public Accounts Committee published a scathing report about the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

The select committee, made up of cross-party MPs, has examined housing policies since 2015 and warns that the current government risks repeating old mistakes.

They accused the Ministry of ‘wasting time and resources’ on housing policies that ‘come to nothing as ministers come and go with alarming frequency’.

The report states that since 2015, not one of the housing programmes has delivered its objectives.

Meg Hillier MP, Public Accounts Committee Chairman, said:

“The Department for ‘Housing’ is at risk of losing the right to the title. It has serially, constantly failed to deliver affordable new homes or even make a serious attempt to execute its own housing policies or achieve targets before they are ditched, unannounced - costs sunk and outcomes unknown.

“MHCLG needs to ditch instead the false promises and set out clear, staged, funded plans, backed by the necessary laws and with a realistic prospect of delivering.”

I think the authors of the report must have been reading our columns because they state that “There is an alarming “blurring” of the definition of affordable housing: it is essential that the Department is clear what ‘affordable’ means to different sectors of society and in different areas of the country.”

It goes on to say that “we are concerned that the cost per affordable home of those funded by money intended for Starter Homes appears much greater than the cost per affordable home delivered by local authorities”.

In the 2015 manifesto, there was a commitment to building 200,000 Starter Homes to be sold at 20% discount for first-time buyers under 40. Yet not one Starter Home has been built and £173m was spent on the policy.

Think how many council houses could have been built with that money!

The report notes that the new “First Homes” policy has similar aims to the ill-fated Starter Homes, albeit offering a discount of up to 30% and warns against promoting another policy it cannot deliver on.

It also says that “current policies do not help people move out of temporary accommodation”, and asks the Ministry to explain how it is addressing the problems of homelessness, rough sleeping, and families in temporary accommodation.

In summary, it appears that the Housing Ministry has spent our hard earned taxes on a string of abandoned policies and wasted resources.


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