No 'starter' homes built under Tory 2015 election pledge - NAO
The Conservatives have failed to build a single “starter” home despite a 2015 manifesto pledge target of 200,000, the government's spending watchdog said on Tuesday.
In a hard-hitting report, the National Audit Office (NAO) said money set aside to build homes for first-time buyers under the age of 40 had been funnelled to other priorities, largely land sales to private developers.
It added that the government effectively no longer had a budget for the project and not all the necessary legislation related to the scheme had been enacted.
The Tories, under then prime minister David Cameron, promised to build the homes in their 2015 election manifesto. Homes would be offered at a 20% discount with £2.3bn set aside for construction of the first 60,000 dwellings.
However, the NAO investigation found that between 2015 and 2018, the government’s policy towards starter homes “shifted”.
It said that the government had claimed in May 2018 to have spent an estimated £250m of the starter homes land fund, but was forced months later to admit it had actually spent from two funds and that “building had not yet started”.
“No starter homes have been built to date,” the NAO said, adding that cash earmarked for the scheme had been spent on buying and preparing brownfield sites for housing more generally, “some of which is affordable housing”.
The NAO said the government ditched the 200,000 homes target in its 2017 housing white paper and replaced it with an aspiration to help 200,000 households into home ownership.
This included the controversial “help to buy” programme which has boosted the profits of listed house builders.