Rishi Sunak has admitted that the government scrapped national housebuilding targets because Tory members do not approve of them.
The prime minister was branded weak by Labour after bowing to pressure from rebel backbenchers over housebuilding targets in December 2022, in a move described as a “unconscionable” by the shadow levelling up secretary, Lisa Nandy.
Campaigners fear that the government’s decision to scrap mandatory targets for local councils in rural and suburban areas puts at risk the Tory’s manifesto pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year.
The governing party watered down the government’s target to build 300,000 homes every year following a furious backlash from his own party’s MPs.
A Commons vote on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill had to be dropped last December after 60 Conservatives signed an amendment calling for the mandatory target to be abolished.
In an interview with the ConservativeHome website yesterday, the PM accepted that his party had ditched the government’s 300,000-a-year new homes target to satisfy the party’s grassroots.
He said: “I spent a lot of the time over the summer when I was talking to so many of our members, so many of our councillors, about our planning system and their views on it.
“What I heard, consistently, particularly from our councillors and our members, was what they didn’t want was a nationally-imposed, top down set of targets imposed telling them what to do.”
Speaking in December last year, shadow housing secretary, Lisa Nandy, said: “It is utterly shameful that the prime minister admits he ditched housing targets because he’s too weak to stand up to Tory members.
“That decision has pushed housebuilding off a cliff and exacerbated a housing crisis that was already causing misery for millions of families and young people, but Rishi Sunak clearly thinks that’s all OK because a few thousand Tory members are happy.
“We need a prime minister that puts our country before his party.”