Allowing local authorities to borrow to build homes could both help tackle the housing crisis and mitigate any emerging economic uncertainty, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said ahead of the Autumn Statement.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: ‘The Autumn Statement presents an opportunity for the new Chancellor to think creatively about how to address the country’s growing housing crisis. We simply aren’t building enough new homes to meet current demand, which is why we’re calling for the Chancellor to empower local authorities to borrow money to build thousands of new social homes.”

Mr Berry said that the gap between the number of homes being built and the current target of 250,000 a year is significant, an issue that he says needs to be addressed by investing in a longer term solution and by increasing involvement of local authorities.

“At a time of political and economic uncertainty, a sensible programme of investment like this could both significantly boost housing output and provide a welcome shot in the arm to a sector that is still jittery over its prospects for the next few years,” he said.

“The construction industry is among the first major areas of the economy to be affected during an economic downturn and even a minor dip in confidence could be disastrous for the government, if it is to meet its target of one million new homes by 2020. The Chancellor has spoken of a fiscal ‘reset’ ahead of his statement. In this spirit, we hope he seriously considers a policy that would both act as a simple low-risk stimulus and would help the government achieve its housing targets.”