The only way we will increase the number of new homes we are building is if Ministers act now to implement measures in the government’s Housing White Paper aimed at removing barriers to small housebuilders, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Responding to a report published last week by the Local Government Association (LGA) on the quality of housebuilding, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The LGA is right to highlight the slow rate of housebuilding in England as we are currently still building significantly fewer new homes than we need to be to meet demand. Not only are we not building enough homes right now, but we’ve been under-building in this country for decades. In order to address this problem, it is vital that the government acts on key proposals in the March 2017 Housing White Paper.
“The White Paper quite rightly emphasis the need to diversify the housebuilding sector, so it is less reliant on a small number of large housebuilding companies to build our homes. The concern is that almost six months after the White Paper was published, we’ve seen limited movement on a range of policies that if implemented, could start making a difference today.”
Brian continued: “The LGA report also raises concerns regarding the quality of new homes and points to one in 10 home buyers being dissatisfied with the end result. To put this another way, that means 90% of consumers are satisfied with the quality of their new home, which is a high customer satisfaction rate. Furthermore, this satisfaction rate is likely to be higher still among customers of SME housebuilders like the ones represented by the FMB. Our members market themselves on building high quality bespoke homes for their clients and this is their unique selling point.”
Brian concluded: “The LGA report also suggests that total investment in new homes should be greater than total investment in the refurbishment of our existing homes. Given that the UK’s housing stock is among the oldest in Europe, with a high proportion of heritage properties and listed buildings, it is equally important that these homes are properly looked after and maintained. In other words, it’s not an either or situation. If we are to solve the housing crisis, then we must increase the delivery of new housing but also maximise the lifetimes of our existing buildings. The government could help encourage greater investment in our existing housing stock by reducing VAT from 20% to 5% to encourage more people to properly maintain their properties.”