National Audit Office says no starter homes have been built despite election pledge
The then prime minister, David Cameron, in 2015 at the launch of the Conservative party manifesto in Swindon. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA
Successive Conservative governments have failed to deliver a single new “starter home” despite promising to build 200,000 by 2020, Whitehall’s spending watchdog has found.
The party’s 2015 manifesto committed to building the homes across England to be sold exclusively to first-time buyers under the age of 40, to help young people take their first step on the property ladder.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said that, to date, no such homes have been built because the government has not budgeted for them or activated all of the necessary legislation.
The 2015 spending review set aside £2.3bn to support the delivery of the first 60,000 properties under the scheme.
But the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) no longer has a budget dedicated to the project, auditors said in a report released on Tuesday.
Funding that 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.
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The Housing and Planning Act 2016 created the statutory framework for the project to go ahead, but the NAO said the relevant sections of the legislation had yet to come into force.
The report said, while it was possible developers had built and sold some properties that met the starter home criteria, legally they could not be marketed as such until the MHCLG had put in place the necessary secondary legislation.
Meg Hillier, the chair of the public accounts committee, said: “Despite setting aside over £2bn 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.”