‘Hollow’ starter-homes policy likely scrapped under budget review

Recent NAO report reveals none of the intended 200,000 starter homes under the policy have been constructed to date.

Holding house keys in hand

Boris Johnson has warned his cabinet that it is “time for the slaughtering of sacred cows” as he vowed to cut some of the projects of his predecessors, Theresa May and David Cameron.

Ministers were ordered to go through their spending line by line and send the Treasury suggestions for projects that could be cut or abandoned entirely.

In a time for “tough decisions”, Cameron’s initially proposed ‘starter-homes’ project – which has seen none of the starter homes built despite the government spending £174m preparing land for them – is likely to be placed under review.

As reported by 24housing, the National Audit Office (NAO) exposed the government’s policy as “hollow” – adding that MHCLG no longer has a budget dedicated to the delivery of starter homes.

In 2015-16, Homes England spent £15.4m of the Starter Homes 2015 funding preparing brownfield land.

Although £26m of funding had been made available by MHCLG, the NAO report says the full amount was not spent because Homes England did not identify enough sites within 2015-16, the year the funding was available, and the unspent funding was returned to the Treasury.

The review will take between six and nine months and is to be overseen by Chancellor Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak, chief secretary to the Treasury, as the government aims to ensure “every penny” of spending is justified.

Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The chancellor and the prime minister said the budget is also the time to take tough decisions in order to prepare the economy for the next decade.

“They said that ministers need to root out any waste, particularly anything that is not aligned with the government’s priorities, and demonstrate value for money for every pound of taxpayers’ money that we spend.”

The warning to ministers came after Javid announced plans for his first budget on 11th March to “level up” Britain.

He is proposing to use the budget to unveil details of £100bn of investment in infrastructure and change the Treasury’s formal objectives so that there is an explicit focus on reducing the gap in the economy between the north and south.

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