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NAO: One million homes target misses need

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The Government’s target of building one million new homes by 2020 will be met relatively easily suggesting it is too low to match housing need, a National Audit Office report has found.

Parliament’s spending watchdog concluded housing delivery in England “has not kept pace with need, and this is particularly acute in London”.

But its report Housing in England said meeting the objective of one million new homes between 2015 and 2020 - including conversions - “does not require a substantial change in the number of homes delivered in England each year”.

Meeting the target would need 174,000 net extra homes each year, it said, more than were built in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis but fewer than 2015-16, when 190,000 homes were added.

This was, though, still below the minimum of 227,000 new households the NAO expected each year between 2011 and 2021.

Since 2011, the cumulative gap between the number of homes built and the number of households being formed has increased by 370,000, the NAO said, contributing to 1.2m households on social housing waiting lists.

That particular output has slumped from 94,000 homes built by local authorities and housing associations in 1980 to 32,000 in 2015.

Chartered Institute of Housing head of policy Melanie Rees said: “Our research has shown that we actually need nearer 250,000 new homes a year to meet new and existing housing demand.

“Supply is also just one part of our housing crisis. We need the new homes that we are building to be genuinely affordable.

“We ended 2016 with the lowest level of affordable housebuilding for 25 years with just 32,000 built compared to 67,000 the previous year.”

Other NAO findings were that social housing rents had risen since 2001 by 79% in local authority properties and 72% for housing association homes.

Homelessness has increased sharply with 71,500 households affected in March last year against 48,000 in 2010-11, though this has remained below the 101,000 peak seen in 2004-05. Councils’ spending on temporary accommodation has risen by 46% since 2010-11, the report said.

A Department for Communities & Local Government spokesman said: “Housebuilding has reached its highest level in eight years. We’ve got the country building again with nearly 900,000 homes delivered and helped more than 362,000 households to buy a home since 2010.

“Ministers will set out further plans to boost housebuilding in our housing white paper.”

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