A Government bid to build 1 million new homes by 2020 will fail, housing minister Gavin Barwell has admitted.

He said that 170,000 homes were being built per year, claiming ‘significant progress’ had been made since 2010 when house building rates were at their ‘lowest since the 1920s.’

He announced six new housing zones, an £18million capacity find to help councils deal with planning issues on large sites and Government support for 12,000 new homes at Shepway in Kent.

The 1 million target was announced in 2015 and repeated by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid at the Conservative Party Conference in October.

A new £3billion home-building fund was also announced to accelerate development.

But Shadow secretary of state for housing John Healey said: “In the last six years we have built fewer homes in this country than under any prime minister since the 1920s.”

New measures are expected to be announced in the Autumn Statement and a Housing White Paper will be published shortly. In 2006 the Barker Review of Housing Supply noted that 250,000 houses needed to be built every year to prevent spiralling house prices and a shortage of affordable homes.

Housing charity Shelter also says a quarter of a million new homes are needed to tackle the crisis, but the target has been consistently missed.

The closest the UK has come was in 2006-07 when 219,000 homes were built.

In 2012-13 it hit a post-war low of 135,500.

The Home Builders Federation blames the planning permission system for being ‘too slow, bureaucratic and expensive.’

Moves to speed up the system have resulted in a steady rise of permissions being granted.

But the shortage of available building land continues to be the main obstacle for housing charity Shelter, who says land prices have inflated ‘massively’.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors says private landholders must be encouraged to release sites for homes.

House builders who develop large sites gradually in order to boost profits also contribute to the problem.

A decline in state-built housing, dating from the early 1980s, has not been compensated by the private sector.