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Former housing ministers slam Government for scrapping housebuilding targets

Two former housing ministers have criticised the Government for scrapping housebuilding targets.

The Government officially watered-down proposals for mandatory local housebuilding targets in its flagship Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill last year.

It saw off a backbench rebellion by stating that while housing targets remain, they will be advisory and are a starting point with “new flexibilities to reflect local circumstances.”


But the policy was criticised by high-profile Conservative MPs during a debate on housing supply brought by senior Tory backbencher David Davis in the House of Commons earlier this week.

Simon Clarke, who was Housing Minister between September and October 2022, said: “Our society does not build the homes that we need to accommodate our existing population, and therefore we need to establish clear targets for housing supply. 

“Doing so is not some kind of Stalinist five-year plan, it is the best way we have yet identified to prevent councils from backsliding on their responsibilities and caving in to what are often small, if noisy, pressure groups. It is my view that the regrettable decision taken by the Prime Minister last year to weaken those targets by removing their legal force was a mistake that has already had far-reaching consequences.”

He suggested an approach where a housebuilding rate is applied based on the existing occupied housing stock of an area in line with the national 300,000 target.

Kit Malthouse, who had the housing brief between July 2018 and July 2019, said he had a “church totaliser” on a whiteboard during his time showing where those houses were going to come from and how we were going to get there. 

He suggested that the planning inspectorate should be scrapped and said there should be hard targets for local authorities while giving them “an absolute right democratically to choose where those houses should go in their area.”

Backbenchers, including Conservative MPs, also proposed Stamp Duty reforms such as downsizing reliefs to improve housing supply.

Responding on behalf of the Government, current Housing Minister Rachel Maclean didn’t address the Stamp Duty issues or scrapping of targets specifically, but said: “Every member has spoken about the importance of a modern, responsive and transparent planning system.

“I think it vital that our reformed planning system helps to bring certainty to communities and developers. That will enable them to take those positive steps towards building more housing, regenerating their local areas and supporting economic growth.”


  • Proper Estate Agent

    Only need targets because of the 10 million people they've brought in

  • Glenn Taylor

    Our planning officers need bolder guidance and more support and more of them.
    Many have left for private practices and should be motivated to return.
    There appears to be no management structure in place, declining wages and a massive hold up with undetermined planning applications.
    At the moment nimbyism is winning by a country mile.


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