The Government should use its ‘powers to intervene’ to ensure councils without local plans make them an urgent priority, according to an influential committee of MPs.
In a report on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) housing targets, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said 42% of councils had a plan older than five years and 14% had no plan at all.
The PAC took issue with the MHCLG’s decision to shy away from using its powers of intervention at these councils.
The Local Government Association's housing spokesman, Cllr Martin Tett, said the Government needed to make it easier for councils to get up-to-date plans in place by giving them sufficient funding and resources.
The PAC also questioned the MHCLG’s ‘highly ambitious’ proposal to deliver 300,000 new homes by the mid-2020s, pointing out only 177,000 new homes had been delivered on average between 2005/06 and 2017/18.
PAC chair Meg Hillier said: ‘Progress against the Government’s annual new housebuilding target is way off track and currently shows scant chance of being achieved.
‘The Government has set itself the highly ambitious target of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s – levels not seen since the Second World War - even though there is no clear rationale for this figure and the ministry itself says only 265,000 new homes a year are needed.
‘Government needs to get a grip and set out a clear plan if it is not to jeopardise these ambitions.’
The committee further highlighted its concern that local authorities were not doing enough to increase the quality of newly-built homes.
It has asked the MHCLG to explain how it plans to work with councils and developers to penalise and compensate for poor residential quality.
Prime minister Theresa May this week stressed that the quality of housing must not be compromised by the Government’s ambitions to build more homes.
Housing minister Kit Malthouse insisted the Government remained ‘determined’ to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.
He said: ‘We’re committed to building more, better and faster. We’re making real progress, last year delivering more new homes than in all but one of the last 31 years.’
This article first appeared on themj.co.uk.