Housing minister Brandon Lewis has warned that a 'Brexit' in June would be catastrophic to the UK's housing market and construction industry.

The pro-EU minister and MP for Great Yarmouth in East Anglia said: “Brexit would be catastrophic for the housing market. To me the European debate is pragmatic. Our relationship with Europe is important to East Anglia, it's not an ideological issue. We could spent ten years extricating ourselves from the EU.

“People are cautiously optimistic we'll stay in. If come out that'll create huge uncertainty as a lot of our supply lines are in Europe.”

Speaking at the Mipim property show in Cannes at the launch of the Northern Gateway Development Zone, which includes Staffordshire and Stoke, Mr Lewis said that the UK needed foreign labour because of the shortage of skills in the construction industry. He joked that 'several generations back' in his own family he had Polish ancestors and added: “The skills shortage issue is still a big problem in building. We need labour across the sector, not just brickies and carpenters but even in admin. We need more people coming into construction.”

The minister also urged local authorities to maximise income from their property assets and even move into the private rented sector. He said: “Councils should be looking at their assets which give them an opportunity for an income stream. Equally they should use their assets to provide homes and these could be for private rented housing.”

Image courtesy of Shutterstock/ JMiks