The Housing Infrastructure Fund was created in 2017 to accelerate house-building in England by offering local authorities grants for enabling infrastructure such as access roads and utilities connections.
However, according to the Financial Times, only 31% of the post has been spent, with most of this allocated in 2021 and 2022.
The newspaper quotes Marcus Dixon, director of UK residential research at property consultant JLL, saying that “rapidly rising build costs and an increased regulatory burden” had led developers to put schemes on hold.
However, the GMB trades union reckons the underspend is down to incompetence rather than market forces.
Charlotte Brumpton-Childs, GMB national officer said: “With brick yards mothballed and housing waiting lists at record levels, only a complete failure of government could leave billions of housing money unspent. Families are facing evictions, rents are spiralling and construction workers are being laid off. But ministers cannot even manage to spend a fund that already exists. There’s no explanation other than total incompetence.”
A government spokesperson told the newspaper that the Department for Levelling up, Housing & Communities was confident that the grants would all be allocated eventually, unlocking “up to” 270,000 new homes.
“More that 23,000 homes have already started construction and expenditure is on track,” the spokesperson insisted.
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