A third of councils in England are failing to tackle the housing crisis as they are not delivering the new homes needed and could face sanctions, official figures show.
The data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) shows that 108 local authorities failed to meet the 95% delivery target. They are now required to set out action plans to explain why they missed their targets and how they will address the failure.
These figures are published for the first time and will be used to incentivise councils to drive up housing delivery. The new Housing Delivery Test has been calculated using figures for total net homes delivered over a three year period which is divided by the total number of homes required over a three year period.
The figures also show that another 87 of these local authorities failed to deliver 85% of the homes they need and will therefore be subject to a buffer, which requires them to add 20% more homes to their five year land supply.
No area delivered fewer than 25% of their housing need, which means none will face the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ penalty. However, the presumption penalty threshold will increase to 45% from November 2019 and to 65% in November 2020.
If the Government had not given areas three years to meet the 65% threshold, 32 local authorities would have been subject to the penalty.
‘These figures show that a majority of councils are rising to the challenge and delivering the homes their communities need,’ said Housing minister Kit Malthouse.
The tests have been welcomed by the National Federation of Builders (NFB) which said that while it recognises the challenges local planning authorities face in meeting the demand for housing, it is concerned that so many councils are missing their targets, leaving q shortfall of more than 220,000 new homes.
According to Richard Beresford, NFB chief executive, members would have preferred local authorities be in control of their own housing destiny but, since many are failing in their duty to meet housing demand and underestimating housing need, incentives are needed.
‘Since the carrot of meeting housing need themselves is not enticing enough for local planners, the Government’s stick of penalties and buffers is clearly required. We have a housing crisis and the Government is taking appropriate steps to fix it,’ he said.
Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association (HBA), believes that councils need to do a better job assessing housing need and identify where homes can be built more quickly.
‘If they continue to underestimate demand and focus on large, controversial developments, we expect the housing crisis to worsen and the Government to take control from failing councils,’ he said.