Chancellor urged to prioritise house building

"For too long the Government has off-loaded its responsibilities for housing and infrastructure onto the private sector. Now that the market has finally collapsed, the Government needs to face up to its responsibilities or it will face mass homelessness as well as mass unemployment.

"The facts speak for themselves. We have been under building for years. We need 223,000 new homes per year to keep up with demand but were only building 185,000 a year before the crash. Last year we built 80,000 and this figure will fall to 70,000 this year.

"It is clear that we have a massive housing supply crisis and this is only going to get worse not better unless the Government takes strong and decisive action.

"Measures to kick-start the house-building industry and promote the retro-fitting of our existing homes to make them greener and more energy efficient offers the best hope to the Chancellor to put Britain back on the road of economic recovery. A fiscal stimulus of £5billion would create as many as 55,000 new jobs in the construction sector which is experiencing its worst recession since 1980.

"We will have five million people waiting for social housing by 2010, and the Government must act now to meet the challenge with a range of measures designed to bring the 943,000 empty home across the UK back into use, and a massive programme of social house building to meet demand.

"The beauty is that in doing so, the Government will be creating jobs, maintaining skills and production capacity in the construction industry, and creating the opportunity to address environmental performance standards. It will also be creating sustainable revenue streams from rental income for local authorities and housing associations; and unlike the bank bailout, taxpayers will actually get something for their money: homes for the people who live here."

Other measures included in the FMB’s pre-Budget submission include:
* Get the banks to lend to small businesses;
* Introduce fiscal incentives such as Council Tax rebates for the refurbishment of our existing housing stock;
* Cut VAT to 5% for all repair and maintenance work to help bring empty homes back into use;
* Abandon the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy which is stopping house building;
* Reintroduce empty property rate relief to help urban regeneration;
* Increase Stamp Duty Land Tax threshold to the average price of a home in the UK which is currently £205,000.

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