Caroline Flint poised to react to housing slump with expansion of publicly funded land buying

Housing minister Caroline Flint is set to announce a major expansion of publicly funded land buying within weeks to ensure homes continue to be built in the downturn.

Caroline Flint, housing minister

The move is being billed as the second part of a package of measures, announced by Flint this week, to attempt to ensure the government’s three million homes target can still be met.

Flint said she had asked the Housing Corporation to set up a “clearing house” where housing associations can get access to surplus private sector homes to deal with the immediate supply problems. £200m has already been set aside to pay for surplus private homes from the government’s £8.3bn affordable homes programme.

However, it is understood there are to be further measures aimed at tackling medium and long-term problems of increasing the supply of housing in a constrained market.

A source close to the negotiations said the government was looking at taking advantage of the fall in land prices to buy up development land for future housing. Ministers and senior officials are known to be frustrated with the inability of housebuilders to increase supply and are looking at alternatives.

Housing starts are expected to fall to their lowest level for decades this year. The government’s housing adviser, the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit, said this week that affordability had not improved despite recent price falls.