Government failed to build any new starter homes despite putting aside £2 billion

5 November 2019, 00:33

The government has not built any new starter homes, the Whitehall spending watch dog has said
The government has not built any new starter homes, the Whitehall spending watch dog has said. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Government has failed to build tens of thousands of new "starter homes" that were promised in the 2015 election, the Whitehall spending watchdog has said.

In 2015, while under David Cameron, The Conservative Party pledged to build 200,000 homes in England to be sold exclusively to first-time buyers under the age of 40.

The Government even set aside £2.3 billion to support the delivery of the first 60,000 properties under the scheme in the Spending Review of that year.

But to this date, no starter homes have actually been built, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said.

While the Housing and Planning Act 2016 created the statutory framework for the project to go ahead, the NAO said the relevant sections of the legislation has yet to come into force.

However, it said the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) now no longer has a budget dedicated to the starter homes project.

The pledge was part of David Cameron's 2015 manifesto
The pledge was part of David Cameron's 2015 manifesto. Picture: PA

Funding which had been earmarked for the scheme has instead been spent on acquiring and preparing brownfield sites for housing more generally - some of which was "affordable" housing.

Between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the MHCLG and its agencies spent £174 million preparing land originally intended for starter homes.

The NAO said that, while it was "possible" developers had built and sold some properties which met the starter home criteria, legally they could not be marketed as such until the MHCLG had put place the necessary secondary legislation.

The chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, 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."

Shadow housing secretary John Healey said: "The Conservatives' flagship housing announcement for first-time buyers has been a total failure. It's clear you can't trust the Tories to do what they promise."