Are Labour’s housing targets already unachievable?

Research by The Times has revealed 15 councils have reduced their house building targets by 10%; If this was repeated by councils across the country, it would make Labour’s pledge to build 1.5 million homes in 5 years almost impossible.

Lichfields carried out separate analysis which found South Staffordshire Council plan to reduce their annual housing target by 40% while Hertsmere Council plan to reduce by 25%.

A Labour source stated councils have ‘taken advantage’ of changes introduced by Housing Secretary, Michael Gove MP, last year that allowed them to avoid building on the Green Belt.

The source continued: ‘This seems to be a scorched-earth strategy to allow councils to adopt unrealistic housebuilding targets before we can put measures in place to stop them.

‘But we will be using all the powers that we have to ensure that we meet our pledge to build the homes we need.’

Shadow Housing Minister Matthew Pennycook has previously accused the Conservatives of ‘giving in to their anti-housebuilding backbenchers’, and ‘torpedoing’ housing supply.

These revelations come at the same time newly re-elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan has accused the government of failing to invest in new social housing.

His website notes ‘Savills are warning that housing completions could fall to just 160,000 next year across the entire country’, falling well below the 300,000 homes a year target.

Both Conservative sources and Michael Gove have stood by the stance that the government will hit the target of 1 million homes built in this parliament. In an interview on Radio 4, Michael Gove stated ‘We’ve missed the 300,000 target but we’ve hit the 1 million over the course of Parliament target’.

Michael Gove did admit failings though, adding:

There’s an increasing pressure on housing supply … We have not been building enough homes, we have not been creating the new housing that matches the new formation of households.’

Michael Gove’s comments highlight he realises the housing shortfall issues and the national need to increase housebuilding but, as Matthew Pennycook and many other Labour MPs have pointed out, Gove is beholden to his anti-development backbench MPs.

With an upcoming election and many rural Conservative MPs nervously watching the polls, we will not be seeing any changes to Conservative planning policy even if Gove accepts there are supply issues.

Unfortunately, The Times and Lichfields research highlights that, if Labour win the next general election, they will be facing an uphill battle that may already be insurmountable.

Author: Edward Poynton

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