Lunchtime news May 23

The rate of housebuilding in the Thames Gateway needs to double if the government is to meet its target of 160,000 homes by 2016, according to a critical report by the National Audit Office. The NAO says building rates are rising more slowly than in the rest of the South East and that ministers have not yet produced a coherent, full-costed plan.

Home information packs could be doomed, says The Times, with Ruth Kelly’s climbdown yesterday leading to them being quietly dropped. The Mail calls it a ‘humiliation’ while the Guardian says the communities secretary is under attack from both estate agents and environmentalists. Go here for Kelly’s statement and here for the press release.

Homeless young people won’t benefit from government plans to offer free tuition up to A level because of housing benefit regulations, says the Foyer Federation.

New research from the Council of Mortgage Lenders [downloads PDF] says 38% of first-time buyers under 30 got help with their deposit from their parents and others.

Most of today’s papers cover new statistics showing a million migrants have gained British citizenship since 1997.

Margaret Hodge continues to generate the column inches. The Independent accusing her of playing into the hands of the BNP and its columnist Deborah Orr calls her ‘simple-minded’ while also exploring the issue of need.

The minister has also achieved the rare feat of turning a housing issue into a hot topic on the blogosphere – more than 2,000 blog entries so far and counting. Go here and here for opposing views.