Despite government plans to build 200,000 new homes for first-time buyers, not a single ‘starter home’ has been built, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

The alarming findings further highlight the issues facing homebuilding in the UK, especially for first-time buyers.

The government introduced the scheme in 2014 and committed to building starter homes in the 2015 Conservative Party manifesto as a way of tackling the affordable housing crisis.

The policy was aimed exclusively at first-time buyers in England aged 40 or under, with homes to be sold at a 20% discount. 

While the Ministry of Housing spent almost £174m between 2015-16 and 2017-18 on acquiring and preparing sites originally intended for these builds, the NAO revealed that all these sites are now being used for general housing, most of which are not affordable for first-time buyers.

Time For a New Approach

This is a damning blow for the government’s homebuilding plans, and compounds the results of a report in September which revealed house prices for first-time buyers could increase by 150% over the next three decades. 

However, while the government has fallen behind on its starter home targets, self builders are showing how custom and self build homes offer first-time buyers a route to create their dream home within a manageable budget. 

This £80k starter home self build saw its homeowner convert an old agricultural building into a contemporary home, while this Scottish couple built a modest-sized small build on a small budget.

Custom and self build homes can be built for under 150,000, and offer the flexibility to save on build costs, manage the project yourself and build your own design. Self build homes can also help maximise the return on your investment. 

(MORE: How to build a house for under £150k)

The NAO said the government’s scheme had faltered because the legislation required had not been put through parliaments. There had been expectations this would have happened in 2019, but neither legislation or planning guidance has been passed. 

Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said: “Despite setting aside over £2bn to build 60,000 new starter homes, none were built.

“Since 2010 many housing programmes announced with much fanfare have fallen away, with money then recycled into the next announcement.

“The department needs to focus on delivery and not raise, and then dash, people’s expectations.”

Our Sponsors