The Government must improve the efficiency of lowcost home ownership schemes to help more people get on to the property ladder, the National Audit Office said today.
About 11,000 households received help to buy a property through Government-funded p rogrammes during 2004/2005, but demand far exceeded supply, with 60,000 households a year wanting help.
The National Audit Office (NAO) said better targeting of assistance to those most in need of help and more efficient administration of the programmes could help more than 4,000 additional households buy a home each year.
It said that, by managing assistance better, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) could save £112 million a year.
Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said: "Low-cost home ownership assistance has helped thousands to take their first step on to the housing ladder. But, to ensure that as many other households as possible get the chance to do the same, the assistance needs to be more tightly managed and better focused on those it would benefit most."
The report estimates that up to £63 million a year could be saved by encouraging RSLs to engage more efficiently with purchasers and encourage them to buy as large a stake in the property as they could afford without putting themselves at risk of having financial problems.
It says a further £48 million could be saved annually by better targeting low-cost home ownership schemes to social tenants, as helping people buy their own property cost half as much as providing them with a social rented home.
The NAO said the DCLG and Housing Corporation, which allocate grants to RSLs, also needed to improve their understanding of how the funds were being used.
It said that, in 2004/2005, social landlords received more than £90 million more in grants than they needed to operate shared ownership schemes.
The report said that, although they were non-profit making and used their returns to subsidise their activities, including providing more affordable housing, controls over these returns and their use needed to be tightened to ensure money was being rein-vested quickly and properly.
Sir John said: "The Department for Communities and Local Government, the Housing Corporation and Regis-tered Social Landlords must work together to ensure that the assistance is being effectively managed and monitored. This will be particularly important in securing value for money as the schemes expand to try to help an extra 100,000 households."