Michael Gove has admitted the government will not reach its target of 300,000 new homes this year.
The Levelling-Up Secretary said it was still the Government’s “ambition” to reach this level.
But he told Times Radio it would not happen this year due to rising costs and worker shortages.
His comments came two days after he was forced to pull a vote on his Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill which would have imposed centrally dictated house-building targets.
Mr Gove said: “We want to build as many as 300,000 a year; that remains our ambition.
“But again, one of the difficulties that we face at the moment is that inflation has meant that the cost of building materials has risen. We all know that there’s quite a tight labour market at the moment in Britain and elsewhere.
“So we’re not going to be able this year to hit that number.
“But we will be doing everything we can in order to bring people with us in order to ensure that we can have a pipeline of homes being built in the future.”
Gove: We must safeguard and respect our environment
He added: “It’s important to ensure that those homes are built in the right places. One of the things I also want to do is to make sure that we, as much as possible, build homes on brownfield sites, that we regenerate urban areas, because it’s important that we safeguard and respect our environment as well.”
Earlier this week Mr Gove was forced to delay long-awaited planning reforms following a rebellion by dozens of Tory backbenchers against mandatory, centrally set targets to build 300,000 homes a year.
A total of 50 Conservative MPs - including eight former Cabinet ministers - signed an amendment to the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill which would have abolished the targets.
The climbdown came after lead rebel Theresa Villiers, the former environment secretary, said the plans would encourage “development which damages the environment and quality of life”.
Downing Street has insisted it was standing by the target to build 300,000 homes a year.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “That commitment remains. When it comes to housing, we want to build more homes in the right places, we are committed to that goal, which is by the mid-2020s.
“We recognise that coming out of the pandemic, that is a more challenging situation but we remain committed to that.”