The National Audit Office, a spending watchdog, has exposed the government’s Starter Homes policy with a damning critique of its failure
The NAO says that despite the government announcing in 2015 that it intended to create 200,000 Starter Homes, no such homes have been built to date - and the necessary legislation is not even in place.
Starter Homes were intended to be houses built exclusively for first time buyers under the age of 40 and sold at a 20 per cent discount.
The concept emerged from the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto which committed to “200,000 Starter Homes, which will be sold at a 20 per cent discount and will be built exclusively for first-time buyers under the age of 40”.
The government’s November 2015 Spending Review provided £2.3 billion to support the creation of 60,000 Starter Homes - the first tranche of the 200,000 pledged - and a consultation was run on Starter Homes Regulations in the spring of 2016.
But in its report published this morning the NAO says that between the financial years 2015-16 and 2017-18, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government spent almost £174m acquiring and preparing sites originally intended for building Starter Homes.
These sites are now being used for housing more generally.
But the NAO reveals that without additional secondary legislation, even houses that conform to the intended Starter Home specifications cannot be marketed as Starter Homes, so cannot pass on the intended discounts to first time buyers.
MHCLG expected to introduce the secondary legislation and planning guidance required for Starter Homes this year but it has not yet presented the regulations to Parliament.
More shocking still, the NAO says MHCLG no longer has a budget dedicated to the delivery of Starter Homes.