Earlier this month, Prime Minister Gordon Brown placed housing firmly at the top of the government's agenda, unveiling plans to build three million homes by 2020 - possibly the biggest building programme in Britain for 30 years. But in this edition of Dispatches, reporter Andrew Gilligan investigates the private house builders charged with solving Britain's chronic housing shortage.
Gilligan raises serious concerns about the way in which house-builders currently operate. He exposes the business tactics which are used to manipulate the planning process, questions the quality of houses and shows how public authorities have allowed developers control over housing policy.
Gilligan uncovers the underhand ways in which some developers seek to gain planning permission. He reveals the dirty tricks used by one lobbying company on behalf of a developer in London to influence the local planning committee and discovers cases where developers have made donations to local political parties which control the planning committees - around the same time their applications for profitable developments are being considered.
With housing in three-quarters of the country now too expensive for first-time buyers, Gilligan examines one of the government's key solutions to the astronomical pricing - building more 'affordable' homes. But he discovers that previous attempts to build cheap, good quality homes in the past have failed dismally with prices for flagship schemes inflating by more than three times the original target price.