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Boris Johnson ditched the Tories’ manifesto pledge of building 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the decade as part of a chaotic speech in Blackpool.

The embattled Prime Minister, who this week narrowly escaped being ousted by own MPs over the Partygate scandal, admitted he can’t give a “cast iron guarantee” the Government could hit the target by 2025.

Speaking in the Lancashire seaside town, he unveiled plans to extend Margaret Thatcher’s right-to-buy scheme to housing association tenants, who will be able to buy their homes at discounted rates.

People on housing benefit will be “given a new choice to put benefits towards a first ever mortgage” under the shake-up, he said, adding: “It’s time to turn benefits to bricks.”

But he accepted the country faced a housing crisis, with millions still unable to buy their own home due to a lack of affordable properties.

The Conservative manifesto pledged Mr Johnson’s administration would ensure 300,000 new homes-a-year would be built by the middle of the decade.

But when challenged over whether the Government could stick to the figure, he said: “I can’t give you a cast iron guarantee that we’re going to get to a number in a particular year.”

He also announced a “comprehensive review” of the mortgage market in a bid to help people onto the property ladder.

It came as he tried to move on from Monday’s confidence vote, in which 41% of Tory MPs voted against the PM.

Setting out his housing reforms, Mr Johnson said the £30 billion a year spent on housing support was being “swallowed” to pay the mortgages of private-sector landlords or by housing associations.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove was also pressed last month on whether the Government would meet its 300,000-homes-a-year pledge, and also failed to give the same pre-election commitment.

( Press Association Images)

Asked if 300,000 new homes would be built this year, he said: “I don’t think we’re going to hit that target this year.”

He later added: “We’re going to do everything we can in order to ensure that more of the right homes are built in the right way in the right places.”

The reforms sparked alarm from housing associations over fears it would reduce the stock of much needed social housing.

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “Right to Buy pilots have shown that there is not enough money from sales to build new social homes to replace those sold, meaning a net loss of social housing.

“We support measures to help people buy their own home and housing associations already build thousands of homes for shared ownership every year, helping people take their first steps onto the housing ladder.

“However we are deeply concerned about the long term impact of Right to Buy and any loss of social housing will make the challenge of providing homes for those in need even harder.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The Prime Minister’s housing plans are baffling, unworkable, and a dangerous gimmick.

“Hatching reckless plans to extend Right to Buy will put our rapidly shrinking supply of social homes at even greater risk.”

She warned that the promise to replace every social home sold off had flopped in the past and added: “The maths doesn’t add up.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey dismissed the speech as a “desperate attempt” by Mr Johnson to relaunch his leadership.

Boris Johnson has lost the confidence of his party, Parliament and the country, the desperate attempt to relaunch his leadership today will do nothing to win it back,” he said.

Meanwhile, housing policy expert Toby Lloyd has said the Government’s extension of the right-to-buy scheme is unlikely to have much impact for the low-earning people it intends to benefit.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, Mr Lloyd, who was former prime minister Theresa May ’s housing adviser, said: “Clearly there are imperfections in the way that the mortgage market works at the moment, but fundamentally the problem is that house prices are way too high.

“That’s why there’s an affordability crisis.”

When asked whether the Government’s new housing plan would have much effect, he said: “I’d be very surprised if it happens in anything like the scale they expect, and if it does I don’t expect it to have that much impact.”

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