With Election fever upon us and Parties publishing their manifestos, it is interesting to read the National Audit Office (NAO) report on the Starter Homes policy announced in the run up to the 2015 General Election.
Following various articles published by the media which criticised the progress of the government’s ‘Starter Homes’ Programme, the National Audit Office (NAO) undertook an investigation to establish the status of the Starter Homes policy and legislation, and the impact of the Department’s (The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local government) investment in Starter Homes.
The government committed to the Starter Homes Programme in 2015, which promised a minimum discount of 20% on 200,000 new homes worth up to £250,000 (£450,000 in London) for first-time buyers aged between 23 and 40. It would be financed by three funds; Starter Homes 2015 funding, the Starter Homes Local Authority Funding Programme (LAF), and the Starter Homes Land Fund (SHLF). The report looks in detail at how these funds have been spent and how many 'affordable' properties they are likely to produce.
The report published by NAO found that there have been no Starter Homes built to date and that the original funding has been used for buying and preparing brownfield sites for housing more generally, although not all for ‘affordable housing’. The NAO report that "at present, no new homes can be built or sold as Starter Homes as they cannot exist until the regulations are approved." Whilst some developers do market discounted homes as ‘Starter Homes’ and count them towards their contribution to affordable housing, they do not necessarily conform to all the requirements of Starter Homes. The Department expected the regulations to be introduced in 2019, but they have yet to lay them in Parliament.
It’s apparent from government publications that policy has shifted and rather than building 200,000 Starter homes, the target now is to help 200,000 households into home ownership through a range of government-backed schemes instead.
To read the full report, click here.