‘Economic headwinds’ will make 300,000 target ‘hard to reach’: Gove

Secretary of State for Leveling, Housing and Communities Michael Gove said that since the pre-pandemic record of 244,000 completions, there have since been “a number of economic headwinds which will make life more difficult to reach the goal of 300,000.

Gove’s comments were made on June 13 during the Upgrading, Housing and Communities Committee evidence session on the government’s upgrading plans announced in the Queen’s Speech last month.

Speaking on the target, Gove said the target is still in place “but there are a number of factors which will make it and have made it more difficult”.

Gove pointed to the country’s “significant housing challenges”, such as a historic lack of supply relative to the level of population growth.

While Gove said the Treasury had confirmed the plans would be funded, he could not confirm how the plans would be funded.

In his response, he revealed that the funds would not come from his department’s existing budget, but from “the overall spending review envelope.”

“We don’t know when in due time is able by definition we better crack up because we can’t necessarily have the conversations with the housing associations that we would like without them having a greater degree of assurance. It’s totally understandable from them, but I’m not able to see exactly how it will be funded yet,” Gove explained.

The secretary of state said the government was “unlikely” to consistently hit the 300,000 year-on-year target.

“Fairplay to the private sector, they’ve been the driving force behind the target of over 244,000. But historically when Conservative governments have reached 300,000, it’s been with the private sector and social housing together, helping to achieve this goal,” he commented.

According to data released by Unlatch last week, last year 181,810 of the target 300,000 new homes were completed across the UK, representing a shortfall of 118,190, the highest number raised since 2007.

Meanwhile, in light of the government’s commitment to abolish no-fault eviction notices under Section 21, Gove said he hoped a white paper would be published later this week.

Gove noted that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Leveling, Housing and Communities, Eddie Hughes, will reveal more about the tenant and tenancy reforms later this week once the white paper is published.

Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new measures to help more people get on the property ladder, including a comprehensive review of the mortgage market.

The Prime Minister outlined the government’s commitment to reversing the downward trend in homeownership rates.

He also confirmed his ambition to “unlock the opportunity to own property” for more people through the right to buy.

However, the new proposals have not been well received by members of the industry, with Shaw Financial Services founder Lewis Shaw describing the Prime Minister’s announcement as “the ultimate political meringue: sweet, light and with very little substance.

“Ownership levels are lower today than they were in 2010, and we know that large swaths of the right to buy homes have ended up in the hands of private owners. We don’t need more right to buy schemes; we need to build more homes and reduce the cost of buying and owning a home. Talk fiddle while Rome burns,” comments Shaw.

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