Speaking at the Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into housing and the credit crunch, John Stewart told MPs that the significance of the housing market to the wider economy meant it was imperative that the Government acted.
The HBF believes that:
• Restoring mortgage availability is key – and after waiting so long for Sir James Crosby’s report, the Government must now act on his recommendations and not wait until next year’s Budget as was suggested in the Chancellor’s desperately disappointing reference to this in the PBR;
• The Government must challenge lender behaviour and use the influence it now has in the banking sector to insist some sensible lending – both to home buyers and struggling businesses – returns, as was promised by the Chancellor when the package to inject cash into the banks was announced in the autumn;
• Government urgently needs to reallocate a significant part of its housing budget – that will not now be spent as planned because of the current downturn – to buy both empty new homes, and to unlock sites on which development could start immediately with an injection of up-front public money and be developed using public private partnership agreements. Money allocated so far has been welcome – but not nearly enough.
Mr Stewart said: “We have been warning Government for many months that it needs to act and the action taken, whilst welcome, has been far too slow. They have lacked urgency. We need much more to be done now, as every day it fails to act sees more industry capacity lost, more jobs lost and more businesses disappearing.
“Crosby must be acted on now. He was commissioned in the Budget and now they are talking about waiting til the next Budget to act. They have waited and waited again when urgency is needed.”
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