The amount of 1 billion euros that the cabinet has released for the housing market over the past two years may not have ensured that faster and more affordable houses have been built. This was revealed by an investigation by the Court of Audit on Thursday.
“Housing is an important social theme, but we wonder whether the money is being spent well,” says Vice-President Ewout Irrgang of the Court of Audit. “There is extra budget available to build faster and more, but we doubt whether this injection has had any effect. It is in any case unclear whether more homes have been built with this extra budget.”
Former interior minister Kajsa Ollongren stated that almost 140,000 homes have been added thanks to this incentive. It has not sufficiently substantiated that claim, the Court of Audit writes in the report Approach housing shortage†
The so-called Housing Construction Impulse (WBI) was one of the most important measures taken by the Rutte III cabinet to tackle the rising housing shortage. In the past two years, 93 construction projects proposed by municipalities have been approved for the government grant.
‘Results achieved by cabinet insufficiently substantiated’
Ultimately, 855 million euros was paid out to municipalities. “The results that the government has achieved with the 1 billion euros until the end of 2021 are insufficiently substantiated. The information that municipalities report to the minister is not sufficiently reliable to deduce the effects of the scheme,” said Irrgang.
For example, when building houses faster, possible displacement has not been taken into account: other housing projects do not receive a government grant and can therefore be carried out later or not, partly due to the scarcity of construction workers, materials and civil servants.
According to the Court of Audit, there is a real risk that the central government has contributed via the Woningbouwimpuls to projects that would have been completed without additional central government funding. Hard figures are not yet available, as all projects still have to be delivered.
The Court of Audit further states that the scheme in its current form does not achieve the intended goals. If the cabinet nevertheless wants to continue with this, the current Minister of Housing and Spatial Planning must reshape the WBI “in order to achieve effective and efficient spending of public money”.
The Court of Audit also considers it wise to allocate the national budget from now on mainly to regions with the greatest housing shortages. It must also be prevented that subsidies for one housing project are at the expense of others. Firm agreements must be made about this with municipalities that receive government funding for the construction of new homes.