Southend Council failed to match its home-building target set by the Government last year, figures reveal.

Housing charity, Shelter, has criticised the Government for setting “unachievable housebuilding targets on over-stretched councils” across the country.

The council built just 42 per cent of the homes it was required to in 2018 to 2019, according to figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

It was one of about 40 per cent of local authorities in England not to achieve its aim, leaving almost 36,000 houses unbuilt nationwide as a result.

The annual housing delivery test shows ​Southend Council delivered 492 homes last year, from a target of 1,178.

​It also shows that the council has not once met its requirements in the three years that data is available.

​As a result, Southend Council, along with 72 others, has been told it must revisit its local plan and outline 20 per cent more land for development than before.

A further eight local authorities, which achieved fewer than 45 per cent of their target, will have their planning powers curbed and have to put national planning rules first.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Slapping unachievable housebuilding targets on over-stretched councils and then penalising them when they can’t fulfil them is not the answer to ending the housing emergency.

“Councils have extremely limited funding and powers to build the homes they’re being asked for.

"What’s even more ridiculous is that the government’s targets don’t include a requirement to build any social housing, which are the genuinely affordable homes this country is crying out for.”

​English local authorities built 247,000 homes in 2018 to 2019, nine per cent more than the year before, thanks to some councils delivering above what was required of them.

Redditch, in Worcestershire, has built almost 1,000 homes in the last three years – despite being set a target of just two.

Though the national totals exceed the housing delivery test’s target, this falls short of the Government’s eventual aim of building 300,000 homes per year by the mid-2020s.

Ms Neate, added: “We will never meet the government’s targets without building social homes – the last time anywhere near 300,000 homes a year were built, councils contributed more than 40 per cent of them.

“To support councils across the country to deliver good-quality housing, we need the government to provide much-needed investment and reforms to our broken planning system – to make it easier and cheaper to build.”