Hard-hitting Scots journalist Andrew Neil left international trade secretary Liz Truss apparently embarrassed after being confronted by a 'failed'' Tory election promise.

The BBC's heavyweight political interviewer questioned the Conservative about a pledge in 2015 to build 200,000 starter homes in five years.

Speaking on BBC Two's Politics Live, Liz Truss was hoping to take apart proposals made by Jeremy Corbyn in Labour's new 'manifesto for hope', which includes the largest housing development project since the end of the Second World War.

That was until Mr Neil quizzed her over the number of social houses and starter homes built by the Conservatives as she attempted to criticise Labour's manifesto.


Mr Neil said to Ms Truss: "You had a plan in 2014 to build 200,000 new starter homes. That was five years ago. How many did you build?"

Ms Truss replied: "There haven't been as many starter homes as we would have liked."

Mr Neil added: "How many did you build?"

Ms Truss said that she didn't have the "exact numbers" before Mr Neil added: "Well, it's easy to remember, it's zero, you built none, under that plan."

The party’s 2015 manifesto committed to building the homes across England to be sold exclusively to first-time buyers under the age of 40, to help young people take their first step on the property ladder.

But then Mr Neil questioned why the Tories had built just 2,640 local authority homes in England last year, during a housing shortage.

"You built 2,640 local authority homes even though there is a waiting list of about one million," Mr Neil said. "The year before you built 1,650. It's derisory isn't it."

While Ms Truss inisted they have succeeded in building more homes, the "highest number for 30 years", Mr Neil pointed out that it was not starter homes.

"That's why we are looking again at how we can help young people get on the housing ladder," Ms Truss added.

Earlier this month, Whitehall's spending watchdog said that successive Conservative governments have failed to deliver a single new “starter home” despite promising to build 200,000 by 2020.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said that, to date, no such homes have been built because the government has not budgeted for them or activated all of the necessary legislation.

The 2015 spending review set aside £2.3bn to support the delivery of the first 60,000 properties under the scheme.

But the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) no longer has a budget dedicated to the project, auditors said in the report.

Funding that had been earmarked for the scheme has instead been spent on acquiring and preparing brownfield sites for housing more generally – some of which was “affordable” housing.