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CN Briefing: Targets; housing; policy

The problem with targets is you have to stick to them.

So if you tell everyone that you’re going to deliver a certain amount of homes within a certain timeframe, the pressure is on.

Especially when you commit to building 1 million homes in five years.

And even more so, when 200,000 of those homes are reliant on you pushing controversial legislation through parliament.

The government is finding this out at the moment, and it’s easy to see why they were initially reluctant to sett a housebuilding goal at all.

Yesterday, MPs rejected 13 amendments to the Housing and Planning Bill, voted through in the House of Lords.

The bill is currently ping-ponging between the two houses and has returned to the upper chamber this afternoon, where peers are considering the Commons’ amendments.

The race is now on for the government to get this legislation passed so it can start delivering on its pledge.

“It’s critical to their credibility,” one housing expert told me today.

A lot of the attention has fallen upon the government’s flagship Starter Homes policy, which offers a discount to first-time buyers under the age of 40.

The government is consulting on a 20 per cent ’starter homes’ target on local authority developments of 10 units or above.

There’s also now uncertainty over how many affordable homes local authorities will have to deliver in addition to these new ‘starter homes’. 

The worry for town halls is that the 20 per cent target could cannibalise most of what councils would have asked for in other forms of affordable housing - such as shared ownership or affordable rent.

Peers had put forward an amendment giving local authorities control over the amount of ’starter homes’ delivered on their developments. But this has now been rejected by MPs.

It will be interesting to see what happens here given the time restraints.

How much push back will there be from the House of Lords?

And if peers are up for a fight, how much is the government willing to compromise in order to get building?

Let the game of chicken begin.

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