Build to Rent scheme falls far short of target

Some 10,000 homes were pledged for would-be tenants, but the first projects are slow in coming

The coalition’s flagship scheme to build up to 10,000 homes for the rental sector has faltered, new figures reveal today.

The first phase of Build to Rent was supposed to involve 45 building projects with £700m spent on new homes, but the Government has admitted that only 17 developments will go ahead, costing £300m.

There is now a question mark over where the remaining cash will be spent. The figures are revealed days after it emerged that the coalition’s Get Britain Building plan, releasing money for affordable housing, has so far been involved in only 715 homes built since 2011, out of a target 16,000.

Shadow Housing minister Emma Reynolds, who uncovered the figures, said: “David Cameron’s failure to build the homes our country needs is exacerbating the cost-of-living crisis faced by millions of families.

“Yet again we have another government scheme failing to deliver what was promised, and ministers’ rhetoric not matching reality – people need homes, not hyperbole.

“No wonder this government is presiding over the lowest level of house building in peacetime since the 1920s.

“Labour is clear that you can’t deal with the cost-of-living crisis without building more homes. That’s why Labour has committed to getting at least 200,000 homes a year built by 2020.”

Build to Rent was announced in tandem with Help to Buy, the Government’s controversial mortgage underwriting scheme which some experts believe is fuelling an unsustainable housing boom in London and the South-east.

With a huge number of people unable to secure deposits to buy homes, Build to Rent was intended to meet the spiralling demand for private rental properties. It was first announced by George Osborne in his 2012 Autumn Statement, with funding extended to £700m for 45 projects in April last year for phase one.

But according to the website of the Homes and Communities Agency which operates the fund, only £300m will be spent in phase one and the remaining money has been set aside for phase two. There are no further details about whether the schemes will go ahead.

At the time of the announcement last year, Housing minister Mark Prisk said: “This government is determined to get Britain building, and the Build to Rent Fund is set to help us deliver, with up to 10,000 new homes to be built from these projects. We’ve seen overwhelming demand for the fund, and it’s become clear that there’s a real appetite for rental investment. These new projects will help us map this almost uncharted market, bringing in new blood to improve rental quality and choice, and building the new homes that this country wants and needs.”

Last week it was revealed that under the Get Britain Building scheme, only 47 per cent of the homes completed so far are affordable, and 7 per cent of those that are still being built are in this category.

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