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Economy needs bold Govt action to spark house-building boost

The country is facing a housing crisis and the government has made tackling that crisis central to its attempts to kickstartthe economy. Unfortunately, although Ministers have introduced a number of positive measures in recent months, housebuilding remains at historically low levels. In addition planning permissions continue to decline; the number of first timebuyers remains at a historically low level, blocking the ambition of many young people to own a home; and millions offamilies are languishing on Local Authority waiting lists.

Economic growth is crucial to the wider economic recovery. According to Government figures, even in its current crisisstate, housing supply accounts for around 3% of UK GDP.

This Autumn Statement is therefore an opportunity the Treasury must take to refine and expand upon the measures it hasalready introduced so that they deliver their intended results.  The Government must:

•Work with lenders to make NewBuy mortgages more widely available and more affordable

•Expand the definition of ‘affordable housing’ so private developers can build many more homes without public subsidy

•Ensure the financial demands levied by Local Authorities on house building sites are realistic – and don’t make sitesunviable and impossible to develop

•Monitor Local Authorities to make sure they take their new planning responsibilities seriously by putting in place viablelocal plans that allow home builders to meet the country’s housing needs over the next 10-15 years

•Remove unnecessary planning obstacles to housing development, such as unreasonable lists of planning conditions

•Expand – and increase the flexibility of – the ‘Get Britain Building’ scheme designed to open up mothballed housing sites

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of HBF said:

“This is a critical opportunity for the Government to demonstrate once again its commitment to increase housing supply and boost the economy.
“Over the past year it has introduced a range of positive measures, but more needs to be done to refine those policies and address other obstacles to home building.

“To drive through real change, increase housing supply and reap the social and economic benefits of more new homes, ministers need to dare to be radical.
“As well as providing desperately needed homes, house building can be a crucial driver in creating local jobs and investment. By tackling the record low build levels and our current housing crisis we would create tens of thousands of jobs.”
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