Jessica Luper 24 September 2015

Government ‘should be embarrassed’ by land disposal records, says watchdog

Government ‘should be embarrassed’ by land disposal records, says watchdog image

The Government has been criticised for the way it has managed the sale of public land for new housing, in a damning report published by the public spending watchdog.

In a new report, the Public Accounts Committee found the Government has failed to record information on how many homes have been built on public land sold for this purpose, or how much this process raised.

Meg Hillier MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said: 'The Government should be embarrassed by the failings uncovered by the PAC's inquiry into land disposal.

Its entire approach has been wishful thinking dressed up as public policy. It also demonstrates an alarming complacency over the future of an irreplaceable public asset...the Government has no record of how many homes have been built or are under construction. It has no record of sale proceeds, nor their value in relation to prevailing market prices.

'There is no means of knowing whether taxpayers are getting a good deal from the sale of their land.'

The report said that the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) could not demonstrate the success of the land disposal programme in addressing the housing shortage or achieving value for money for the taxpayer, because it does not collect information on the actual number of houses built or under construction,the proceeds from land sold, or whether the parcels of land were sold at market value.

It also deemed the DCLG to have adopted ‘a very wide interpretation’ of what it could count towards achieving its target. With much greater ambitions for land disposals in the new Parliament,the watchdog says the DCLG must address the weaknesses in the current programme.

A DCLG spokesman said: 'Previous governments allowed valuable brownfield land to go unused whilst housebuilding levels crashed to their lowest levels since the 1920s.

'We have got the country building again and are releasing surplus government land to protect taxpayers from paying for their upkeep and build the homes families need.

'This has released enough land to build 109,000 new homes and we now want to go further and faster with land sales for a further 150,000 homes by 2020, helping people achieve their dream of home ownership.'

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Child and Family Support Worker

Essex County Council
Plus Excellent Benefits
The purpose of this role is to work within frontline teams to support the delivery of effective Children's Social Work. England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Part Time Community Rail Partnership Officer

Essex County Council
£24000 - £26275 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
Please note that this position is being offer on a part time basis, covering 23 hours per week. Working Pattern TBC. England, Essex, Rochford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Duty Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£19,554 - £21,166
The successful candidate will work across a rota pattern that includes regular evening and weekend working and will be responsible for... Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Business Support Officer - Learning and Early Support

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Duties will include... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Plant and Motor Vehicle Technician - 3 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£24,799 - £26,317
You will carry out vehicle inspections, servicing, maintenance and repairs to vehicles and plants operated by Kirklees Council in... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how public sector organisations can unlock the hidden value in their land, and why a new approach to construction could help boost the outcomes of the Government’s One Public Estate programme.

The December issue also considers why learnings from ancient cities could provide the key to promoting wellbeing in the modern built environment. It also contains a case study on how the London Borough of Westminster has provided high quality care for the elderly alongside a block of luxury apartments.

Register for your free digital issue