Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds has called for "an army of small builders" to help deliver the number of new homes needed to address the housing crisis, in a speech to the National House Building Council.

Increasing the number of small housebuilders is the key to delivering the number of new homes this country needs, which is why Labour's call for an "army of small builders" is the right step forward to help address the housing crisis, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

In a speech today, Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds told the National House Building Council (NHBC) that a future Labour government would require local authorities to allocate more small sites for housebuilding and a commitment to ensure public land will widen opportunities for small builders.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: "Labour's plans to boost housebuilding by helping small builders enter the housing market is the right step forward. Over the past 25 years, small housebuilders have been squeezed out of the market. In 1988 two-thirds of all new homes were built by SME builders, but that figure now stands at less than a third. This decline has accelerated over the past five years, as large numbers of firms have either gone out of business or have diversified out of building homes altogether.

"Any political party serious about tackling the housing crisis needs to get small housebuilders back into the market. Two barriers are preventing this from happening – lack of access to finance and lack of access to land. Until these issues are addressed, small builders will not be able to build the number of new homes that are urgently needed to solve the housing crisis."

Berry concluded: "Housing is rising up political agenda and will be a key issue during the General Election. Everyone has the right to a decent affordable home, which is why it is encouraging that the Labour Party is actively seeking ways to achieve this. An army of small builders suggested by Labour is exactly what is needed to boost housing supply and help provide more choice in an overpriced and constricted housing market."