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Government's Public Land Sale Claims Challenged by NAO

A National Audit Office (NAO) investigation into claims made by Government in the run-up to the general election, that it had sold-off enough public land to developers to enable the construction of more than 100,000 starter homes, has revealed that the data actually included sites sold off while Tony Blair was still the Prime Minister.

The key findings of the NAO investigation are as follows:

  • The target measured a notional number of expected homes, not actual homes built.
  • The NAO found no supporting documentation or economic evidence behind the target or how it was allocated to departments.
  • Departmental progress in disposing of land was slower than expected and government had to take action to increase land sales. It closely monitored progress and took various approaches to increase delivery, such as transferring land to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) for disposal, increasing central support for difficult sites and providing financial assistance to departments to help with the cost of preparing sites.
  • By the end of March 2015, Government had disposed of enough land with capacity for an expected 109,950 homes. In total, the land disposed of comprised 942 sites.

However, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) applied a wide interpretation of the land that could be counted towards the target. The total notional 109,590 homes figure included 15,740 homes on land that the public sector disposed of long before the target was set.

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