The government appears to have slipped back on two deadlines concerning measures key to the property industry.
Firstly the consultation on the proposed ban on letting agents’ fees - which Chancellor Phillip Hammond suggested would start “in the new year” when he announced the measure in November’s Autumn Statement - will now not happen until March or April.
In a House of Lords debate yesterday it was announced that “The government is committed to introducing legislation as soon as possible to implement the ban on letting agent’s fees for tenants and we will consult in March and April on the details of the ban and will consider views of property [letting] agents, landlords, tenants and other stakeholders before introducing legislation.”
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors had already suggested that the likely timetable for the ban was such that - if the government opted for full consultation and primary legislation - the measure was unlikely to be in place before 2018. The latest announcement lends weight to that revised timetable.
Meanwhile the National Audit Office has let it be known that the government’s target of one million new homes - stated by former Prime Minister David Cameron as “to be achieved by 2020” has now slipped.
The NAO says this will now not be achieved until the end of 2020, which would be almost six years after the initial pledge to meet the target “within five years.”
To achieve even this new target, some 174,000 new homes a year will be required to hit the target. It is thought likely that some 190,000 new homes were completed in 2016, although official figures have yet to confirm this.
Labour - which says it discovered the deadline shift in NAO documentation - says the government has nowhere to hide after revising such a high-profile target.
“The [NAO] report confirms that housebuilding is falling well short of demand and that the cost to the public purse of is ballooning, with the temporary accommodation budget growing to cope with rising homelessness” says shadow housing minister John Healey.
“Ministers have nowhere to hide. Not only are they not building enough homes, the level of affordable housebuilding has fallen to a 24 year low, homelessness has doubled and the number of young home-owners has fallen by a third of a million since 2010” he claims.
On top of this, there remains no official word on the timing of the long-awaited Housing White Paper, originally to be released before the end of last year and more recently described as being scheduled for January.