Caroline Flint said today the government would encourage the development of the private rented sector among a range of measures to kickstart the ailing housing market and admitted the government's target of 3 million new homes may not be reached.

The minister for housing and planning, who was speaking at a packed fringe event on housing challenges at the Manchester Midland Hotel, said: 'I keep getting asked about our target. We have an aspiration and a target of 3m homes by 2020 and we will do whatever we can but it is challenging in a tougher market.'

She said that a professional rented sector could help provide a better quality of home and more choice for people.

Housebuilders to get involved in professional rented sector

'There are opportunities there and some house builders have come to us and said they would like to get involved in that sector,' she said. 'We need to see if we can add some of that supply to our housing stock.'

Andrew Teacher, spokesperson for the BPF, said: 'We very much welcome the open and innovative approach of the minister regarding the delivery of a professional rented sector to mirror that of Germany and the Netherlands. Clearly, obtaining institutional investment at the current time will be challenging, but with the right model in place, and more importantly, the right support of local councils, we can look to change people’s perceptions of rented homes and deliver much needed new housing that is both affordable and of good quality.'

Other areas Flint said the government would explore was how mortgage products were marketed and explained, the extension of shared equity schemes, particularly among young people, and ensuring people on low income secure appropriate housing.

Rounded on Tory's
She defended the govenment's plans for housing as 'common sense' and rounded on the Tory's proposed policies.

'We have a task on our hands to build new homes and the fact is that the Tories did not deliver in 18 years of power and still don't have a worked out policy,' said Flint. 'We have 1million more home owners than a decade ago. But we can't just have a choice of social housing to rent and homes to buy and nothing in between.'