Government accused of ‘wishful thinking’ over homes plan

The government's attempts to sell off surplus land for new housing have been criticised as 'wishful thinking'


The government’s attempts to sell off surplus land for new housing have been criticised as ‘wishful thinking’ by MPs.

In 2011 the coalition government announced they wanted to dispose of enough land in four years to build 100,000 homes.

But according to the Public Accounts Committee, no record had been kept of homes built or sale proceeds so it has not been possible to assess progress.

The committee said the government claimed to have disposed of nearly 950 sites capable of accommodating over 100,000 homes. Of these around 35 per cent previously belonged to the Ministry of Defence, while the Homes and Communities Agency and Department of Health accounted for 32 per cent between them.

However it said that ‘basic information’ about how many homes had actually been built as a result did not exist, nor had any record been kept of the sums raised from the disposals and how they related to prevailing market prices.

Chair of the committee Labour MP Meg Hillier said the government “appeared simply to have hoped huge numbers of houses would spring up”.

“Many thousands of people desperately need homes and an effective land disposal programme should provide two significant benefits: much-needed housing and much-needed cash for the public purse,” she said.

“Yet the government has no record of how many homes have been built or are under construction. It has no record of sale proceeds, nor their value in relation to prevailing market prices.

“There is no means of knowing whether taxpayers are getting a good deal from the sale of their land. Its entire approach has been wishful thinking dressed up as public policy. It also demonstrates an alarming complacency over the future of an irreplaceable public asset.”

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