Small housebuilders blast portion of cash destined for major players

Small housebuilders have hit out at the government for allocating nearly half the Get Britain Building fund to volume builders, after pledging to use the money to help smaller firms.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) last week said it had loaned £570m to housebuilders under the programme, to unlock the development of 15,500 homes. When the government invited bids for the fund, which is targeted at projects that have stalled owing to lack of finance, housing minister Grant Shapps said he had made the scheme “simple” because he was “particularly keen that small and medium-sized builders can ask for funds”.

It has now emerged that 41% of the homes unlocked by the fund will be built by the 15 largest builders, including more than 10% by Barratt. Eight per cent - more than 1,000 homes - has been allocated to Berkeley Group sites, the most profitable housebuilder, which says it will return £1.7bn to shareholders over 10 years.

Roger Humber, strategic policy adviser to the House Builders Association, which represents smaller housebuilders, said: “The idea that any of these builders can be classed as unable to fund the development of new sites is beyond belief. How can the HCA demonstrate these homes wouldn’t have been built without public money?”

Claire O’Shaughnessy, HCA head of land and regeneration, said: “The shortlist reflects a good mix of housebuilders, all of whom will be required to deliver homes more quickly than they would have done without this investment.”