Rishi Sunak reveals why government scrapped housebuilding target

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

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.”


Scrapping housebuilding target would deal £17bn blow to economy, OBR warned



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  1. A W

    Translated into laymans terms:

    The Tories lied about the targets to win votes. They cant/dont want to spend the money to fix the housing crisis.

  2. northernlandlord

    The truth is the Government have no control over how many houses get built. The Government doesn’t build houses, property developers do. The Government can compel local authorities to release land for development but they can’t make developers build. In fact around 40% of land with planning permission never gets built on. When local authorities who also mostly don’t build houses either, miss the targets they are punished further by being made to release yet more land to entice developers. In this way if developers hold out they can get to build the houses they want to, where they want to build them and they won’t be affordable ones in cheaper areas. They can also build to order, drip feeding the market to keep prices high. The overall housing targets have never been met for these reasons. Removing targets weakens the hand of developers and strengthens the hands of local authorities who can no longer be blackmailed, so it might be a good thing. Local authorities don’t get that much out of new developments as developers try to wriggle out of any infrastructure provision needed to support the people who will live in their houses leaving Councils to pick up the pieces. So, losing a development is no real loss for a Council if there are no imposed targets.  Developers have to build to live so might now be forced into building more affordable houses where they are actually needed as Councils in role reversal now drip feed building land , especially if they strictly control planning permission and make it conditional on sites being built out in a timely manner.  So maybe there is logic to the move and it’s not a cop out after all.


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