Spending watchdog finds Tories have made just 5% progress towards their 2020 target

Planning Houses

The government is already lagging well behind its target of releasing public sector land for 160,000 homes this parliament, with land with capacity for only 8,580 homes released in the first ten months of the five-year programme.

The figure represents just 5% progress towards the 2020 goal.

However, responding to criticism of the previous coalition’s government’s commitment to sell public land for 100,000 homes by 2015, the communities department has now committed to tracking the number of homes actually built on land sold, unlike in the previous parliament.

Today’s report by public spending watchdog the National Audit Office found additional land capacity for 4,853 homes (an additional 3%) was also sold over the first ten months, but the agency responsible for the programme, the Homes and Communities Agency, had not demonstrated this additional land will actually be developed for housing

In order for the government to achieve its commitment, departments must dispose of more sites in each of the next four years than in the best performing year of the previous land disposals programme.

Departments have so far identified additional land with capacity for a further 104,461 houses, or 65% of the programme; however, a little over half of the housing capacity is on “high risk” sites, where at least one issue could prevent a sale.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “While progress has been made, DCLG still has a lot to do to meet the government’s commitment to dispose of land for 160,000 homes by 2020.

“The current programme has had a relatively slow start. At most, 8% of the overall commitment has been achieved in the first full ten months of the programme, meaning departments must now dispose of more land in each of the remaining four years than they achieved in any year of the previous land disposals programme.”

A communites department spokesperson said: “In the last programme we exceeded our commitment to release enough land for 100,000 homes and are now going even further by releasing enough public sector land for at least 160,000 homes.

“The National Audit Office agree that progress has been made, we have measures in place and will monitor the progress of land development including the number of homes built.

“We are fully committed to accelerating the release of public sector land openly and transparently and expect land for tens of thousands of new homes to be released this year