Scope of the inquiry
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (the Department) sets the national policy for the housing planning system in England and local authorities are responsible for implementing this policy. From the mid-2020s, the Department aims to support the delivery of 300,000 new homes per year and has made changes to the planning system designed to help local authorities in England determine how many, where and what type of new homes should be built.
A recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO) found serious flaws in the government’s planning system and concluded that, in its current state, it cannot demonstrate that it is meeting housing demand effectively. Between 2005-06 and 2017-18, 177,000 new homes per year have been built on average; the NAO found that, to meet its ambition, the Department will need to oversee a 69% increase in the average number of new homes built since 2005-06. This is a challenge because the number of new homes being built per year has never exceeded 224,000 in the last decade.
Local authorities help to deliver new homes by producing local plans which should set out how many and where new homes will be built. However, the NAO report discovered that local authorities are struggling to produce local plans: only 44% had an up to date plan in December 2018.
The Public Accounts Committee has investigated the housing market on a number of occasions (Homeless Households December 2017; Housing: State of the Nation April 201). These inquiries highlighted its concerns around England’s long-running housing shortfall and the consequences of this: homelessness, rent affordability and the barriers people face in getting on the property ladder.
On 29 April, the Committee will question officials from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on:
- How the Department will achieve its ambition for 300,000 new homes a year from the mid-2020s;
- Local authorities’ spending on planning and their processes for dealing with planning applications; and
- Long-term funding for infrastructure to support new homes.