THE government will not be able to eradicate informal settlements by 2014, and now says everyone living in a shack will have a house by 2020 instead.

Under Lindiwe Sisulu, the Housing Ministry set 2014 as a target to meet the UN Millenium Development Goals.

In an about-turn, Sowetan has been told this will not happen.

"Eradication of informal settlements is itself not a Millennium Development Goal, but the intention captured in that announcement by the then Minister of Housing is related to ensure environmental sustainability," spokesperson for the Minister of Human Settlements Chris Vick said.

The Department of Human Settlements says there are about 2700 informal settlements in 70 of the biggest municipalities and metros.

"The intention was to eradicate informal settlements by 2014, but at the time information on the magnitude of the challenge presented by informal settlements was not known.

"The previous information was that there were 1066 informal settlements based on the 2001 census. Also the impact of the global meltdown was not taken into account.

"Stats SA has estimated that there were about 1085000 households living in informal settlements," he said.

But he says this figure will not translate into how many RDP houses will have to be built as not all residents in informal settlements qualify for the subsidy.

"It is believed that a substantial number have already benefited elsewhere," Vick said.

On average, government programmes deliver 200000 to 240000 housing units each year.

"We are also addressing issues of quality to ensure that each housing unit meets the set requirements," he said.

Between April 1 and December 31 last year, 370 housing projects were registered. "About 1600 projects are currently in progress. These are at various stages of commencement, implementation and completion," Vick said.