'A Major Mistake': Sunak Slammed By Former Cabinet Minister For Ditching Housing Targets
Rishi Sunak speaks to a guest as he attends the Big Lunch party at Downing Street on Sunday.
Rishi Sunak has been slammed by a former cabinet minister over his decision to ditch housebuilding targets following a rebellion by Tory MPs.
Simon Clarke said the prime minister had made a “major mistake” which would harm the Conservatives’ election chances.
Sunak was forced into a humiliating U-turn last December when he abandoned moves to force local councils to build 300,000 new homes a year.
Critics say the move will make it even harder for young people to get on the property ladder.
On Radio Four’s Today programme this morning, Clarke, who was levelling up secretary under Liz Truss, said the Tories’s disastrous local election performance had shown Sunak was wrong.
He said: “In these results there is one theme that stands out above all others for me is that we cannot out-NIMBY [Not In My Back Yard] the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, so one aspect of policy that does need to change and change as a matter of urgency is our housing policy.
“So we can get back to building the homes that people need, making the case – the moral, economic, political case – for building the homes that a growing population requires rather than, I’m afraid, trying to pander to the public’s worst instincts on this question, which isn’t working.
“I would say that dropping those targets was a major mistake and I would like those restored.”
Speaking last month, the PM admitted he had ditched the targets because Tory members don’t like them.
He said: “I spent a lot of the time over the summer when I was talking to so many of our members, so many of our councillors, about our planning system and their views on it.
“What I heard, consistently, particularly from our councillors and our members, was what they didn’t want was a nationally-imposed, top down set of targets imposed telling them what to do.”
Shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy said: “It is utterly shameful that the prime minister admits he ditched housing targets because he’s too weak to stand up to Tory members.
“That decision has pushed housebuilding off a cliff and exacerbated a housing crisis that was already causing misery for millions of families and young people, but Rishi Sunak clearly thinks that’s all OK because a few thousand Tory members are happy.
“We need a prime minister that puts our country before his party.”