We recognise that the Department for Communities and Local Government (the Department) and individual departments have made progress, since our report in September 2015, on managing the disposal of public land for new homes. The Department has put in place guidance and monitoring arrangements for the 2015–2020 programme, although it has yet to publish these. It has also made clearer other departments’ roles and responsibilities. We are also pleased that the Department has now agreed to monitor the number of homes actually built; the programme is an important part of addressing the current housing shortage and the taxpayer has a right to know how many homes are built as a result of it.
However, there is still a long way to go to ensure that departments release enough land, by 2020, with the capacity for at least 160,000 new homes. All departments have made a slow start in releasing land, and so the success of the programme will depend on accelerating land sales significantly in the remaining years to 2020. For many of the sites identified for future sale there are a number of risks still to be addressed and it is far from certain that they will actually be made available for new homes, or when, and there is no contingency in the programme. The Department for Communities and Local Government also needs to firm up the detail of its monitoring and reporting processes; to make all details of the programme public so that roles, responsibilities and accountabilities are clear and transparent thereby providing assurance to taxpayers that they will see the benefits of this programme.
1 November 2016