Attempts to tackle the nation’s housing shortage were placed at the heart of Gordon Brown’s first term in office yesterday with the publication of a bill aimed at boosting supply. Financial Times

The housing and regeneration bill will aim to create more social and affordable accommodation, in particular, to meet the government’s target to build 3m homes in England by 2020.

The bill will also introduce reforms in social housing to provide better services for tenants, and establish the powers needed to create the government’s promised “ecotowns”.

House builders broadly welcomed the commitment to the housing targets although they expressed scepticism about their feasibility. “The 3m target will require a step change from many local authorities in their approach to allocating and approving land for housing development,” said Graham Cunningham, managing director for CALA Homes, who complained of targets being undermined at the local planning level.

The government also confirmed it had dropped proposals for a planning gain supplement, a tax on the uplift in land values during the planning process, in favour of a tariff-based system of local planning charges.