Gove insists commitment to 300,000 homes per year target

Credit: PA

Michael Gove has said the government remains committed to its target of building 300,000 new homes a year.

The Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto pledged to “continue progress towards our target of 300,000 homes year by the mid-2020s”.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 216,000 homes were delivered in 2020/21, and in the Tory leadership contest in the summer both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss made clear they would abandon the target.

But speaking on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, the Levelling Up Secretary recommitted ministers to the manifesto pledge despite citing several difficulties.

He said: “No-one can deny that it is going to be made more difficult because of the economic circumstances that we face."

“As Rishi (Sunak) said, we need to be straight with people: the cost of materials has increased because of the problems with global supply chains and also a very tight labour market means that the capacity to build those homes at the rate we want is constrained.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.

When pressed further on whether the 300,000 a year manifesto vow is “absolutely part of your programme” given housing minister Lee Rowley said in the summer that Ms Truss would abolish top-down housing targets, Mr Gove said: “The first thing is that the top-down housing targets that Lee was referring to and indeed Liz was referring to are part of a broader and different calculation from the 300,000 in the manifesto."

“We are talking two different things here. But my view is that what we do need is a fair way of allocating housing need that takes account of changes in population.”

Mr Gove insisted some of the “calculations” that have been made in the past have been “wrong”, noting: “We need to rebase that, but what we critically need to do is to make sure that we have local communities consenting to development, and that means that homes need to be more beautiful.

“It means that we need the infrastructure alongside them, but it critically also means that we need to make sure that the environment is protected as well.”

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg Credit: PA

Meanwhile, Mr Gove repeatedly refused to rule out direct cash help for struggling renters in the months ahead.

After claiming the prime minister will “support those people who are facing the toughest time”, the Levelling Up Secretary was asked if some of the options being considered are “extra cash” for renters.

He said: “It will mean or could mean targeted support for all sorts of people who are in difficulty, but again, what I can’t do at this stage is anticipate specific support.”

Mr Gove did confirm tougher legislation to deal with rogue landlords and protect renters will be brought forward.

“Before I left government in the summer, we had put in place plans both to deal with social landlords that are not doing their job effectively, and also to deal with the very small but noxious minority of private landlords who are not treating their tenants properly, and we will bring forward that legislation to deal effectively with them”, he said.