A cross-party parliamentary report has criticised Government housing policy, saying it has caused “uncertainty” for local authorities.

The report, published pm Friday by the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee says it will be difficult to achieve the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes a year in England by the mid-2020s if mandatory local housing targets are dropped.

In December 2022 the Government announced plans to make changes to its National Planning Policy Framework. This announcement, along with the prolonged three-month consultation period, meant that 58 local authorities delayed progress on home-building projects according to the new report.

LUHC’s report into the policy review also criticises the Government for not providing “sufficient evidence to demonstrate how its proposed reforms will increase housebuilding to meet the national housing target by the mid-2020s.”

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, who is chair of the committee, said:

“We have a national shortage of housing in England and there’s evidence the Government’s latest shake-up of planning rules is already having a damaging impact on efforts to increase the building of new homes.”

The Government’s proposals for reform to their policy include making local housing targets advisory rather than mandatory, and to remove the requirement for councils in England to maintain a rolling 5-year housing supply of land for housing. The committee’s report mentions that numerous stakeholders provided them with evidence that suggests these measures would make the national housing target “impossible to achieve.”

Successive governments are also blamed in the report for failing to build enough housing – something it says is “an underlying cause of the current affordability crisis.”

“People are facing rising housing costs,” said Mr Betts. “Housing affordability is a major issue. For our economy and for communities across the country, it’s crucial the Government takes urgent action to encourage the building of more homes.

“Without urgent action, the Government will fail to achieve its national housing target of building 300,000 net new homes per year by the mid-2020s.”

As a result of the Government’s proposals, only half of the housing stock that’s needed would be built, according to Mr Betts.

“Planning consultants say annual house building will go down to around 150,000 a year under the Government’s proposed policy reforms. The prospect of a major hit to the building of new homes resulting from the Government’s planning rule changes is deeply concerning, especially for people wanting to get on the housing ladder, families eager to move home, and communities crying out for affordable places to live.”

While the Government is committed to a net 300,000 new homes each year, there is no commitment or guidance on how that figure should be made up. The report calls for the Government to give greater priority to social housing, by including 90,000 homes for Social Rent in the 300,000 figure.

It also highlights the resource challenges faced by local councils and their planning departments, and criticises the Government for failing to deliver a comprehensive resources and skills strategy for the planning sector.

Source: Yorkshire Post

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