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Industry reacts to Budget announcement

Aims for 300,000 new houses a year a big talking point
John Lambert

John Lambert

With yesterday’s Budget announcement again providing talking points for the industry, key players were quick to deliver their response.

John Lambert, managing director at Forticrete, welcomed the boost to housebuilding.

He said: “It was no surprise that housing featured heavily in the Chancellor’s Autumn budget. Much of the pre-Budget hype focussed on this area, and the Government has been under immense pressure for some time to increase the number of houses built to accommodate the ever-growing population.

“In his statement, Phillip Hammond announced new financial support for housing over the next five years, taking the total support for housing to at least £44 billion over this period. At the heart of this is a bold aim to build 300,000 houses on average each year up to 2020. This is an increase from the 250,000 the Government outlined in its ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ report at the start of the year and is perhaps another step in the right direction.

“The focus will be to build on sites where planning permission has been granted because the pace at which houses are built is crucial to achieve his goal. And the chancellor’s promise to introduce planning reforms will ensure more land is available for planning developments.

“Not only do housebuilders need to start building sooner, they should embrace methods which make the process quicker and more cost effective. Material specification is key in achieving this.

“There is a risk however that housebuilders could face lengthy waits due to shortages of popular building materials. Anticipating the growth in demand, suppliers, like ourselves, have invested consistently over the last decade and in more recent times (2016).”

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF echoed these points, saying: “ The BMF is pleased that the Chancellor has acknowledge the profound need to deliver and build new homes. This needs to be an unflinching, unrelenting determination by government at all levels to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. We also want to see the Government press ahead with its proposals contained in the Housing White Paper, as this will bring a welcome boost to housebuilders and to the manufacturers and merchants in the building materials supply chain.

“Access to finance, available land, more SME builders, sclerotic planning approval, slow build-out rates, over-stretched local authorities, brownfield versus greenfield, and residents’ resistance, must all be confronted and resolved. However, we welcome the new money that has been found for the Home Building Fund, for small sites, and for construction skills. In addition, we are pleased to see the lifting of the cap on Housing Revenue Accounts for Local Authorities and the immediate scrappage of stamp duty for many first-time buyers.”

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) said: “Whilst we welcome measures to encourage housebuilding, an emphasis must be placed on delivering high-quality, energy efficient homes that provide real value for people and places. The changes announced to the stamp duty regime are a positive step to help first-time buyers. However, we urge Government to go further by introducing stamp duty incentives which make energy efficient homes more attractive for housebuyers. This would be another way of ensuring the long-term affordability of homes and would help create a market for better-performing properties.

“It is encouraging to see environmental priorities recognised for their economic potential with positive steps towards improving air quality, incentivising the move towards electric vehicles, and reducing plastic pollution. However, this Budget fails to recognise the significant economic potential of low-carbon buildings and infrastructure or the opportunity to use fiscal policy to help deliver the Clean Growth Strategy.

“We hope that the imminent Industrial Strategy will provide a path for clean growth by boosting innovation across the property and construction industry.”