The housebuilding industry gives its latest reactions to the funding and measures announced by the chancellor
Brian Berry, director of external affairs, the Federation of Master Builders
The chancellor had an opportunity today to invest in our housing but instead has offered a lukewarm package of financial measures that will do little to increase the housing supply or to make our homes more energy efficient. The amounts on offer of £500m to support the construction industry and kick-start stalled construction projects of new homes, coupled with the £100m for local authorities to invest in energy efficient improvements are a drop in the ocean
Gideon Amos, chief executive, Town and Country Planning Association
The TCPA welcomes the chancellor's pledge to spend £500m to kick-start building on mouthballed housing projects, including £100m for local authorities to build energy efficient housing. Delivering more homes now is essential through unlocking these developments, but just as importantly we need to ensure there is a planning and construction industry left when the recovery gets under way.
Government must also acknowledge that the old model of housebuilding is broken. The reality is that people delivering development now will be in the public or voluntary sector. We need to relearn the skills to deliver large-scale development via the public sector. For key projects government also need to put in place infrastructure funding to make housing schemes viable – with land values halved these sums will not often be coming from landowners or developers - at least for the immediate future. Failing to provide infrastructure and meet sustainability standards would be failing the future generations whose tax revenues we are already putting into development.
Stephen Stone, chief executive, Crest Nicholson
This is the tightest budget to have been delivered in many years and the government’s focus on trying to rebalance the UK’s finances is understandable in light of this fact.
Darling’s financial response to the call for government intervention to unfreeze the mortgage market feels somewhat overdue. Equally, mortgage indemnity guarantees have long been brokered as a means of increasing funding and easing future approvals, and I believe that the implementation of government securities will be welcomed across the industry.
The fact that the stamp duty holiday has been extended will do much to support those at the lower levels of the market and, forming part of a package of wider measures, will be integral in maintaining a flow of transactions.
Chris Blythe, chief executive, CIOB
£500m for housing and £100m for local authorities to spend on energy efficient housing developments is small beer for an industry that has the capacity to turnover £100bn a year. The big question is when that investment will come in; if it’s too late the jobs will have gone.
The measures around the green activity won’t make any immediate difference as they are so far into the future. Overall it’s hard to see where the construction industry goes in this budget.
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman, Home Builders Federation
We are delighted that money has been made available to unlock mothballed sites. We now need to work with the government to identify sites and get work started as quickly as possible. The benefits of doing so are quite clear in terms of employment and for the wider economy.
David Orr, chief executive, the National Housing Federation
The chancellor has taken a step in the right direction by identifying some clear ways of kick-starting housebuilding but unfortunately he hasn't been bold enough. The government is right to take a stake in housing projects where work has stalled and to make it easier for social housing to be built, but ministers needed to go further.
We are in the midst of major economic and housing crises and the chancellor should simply have backed our call to spend £6.35bn of public money on helping housing associations deliver 100,000 new social homes over the next two years.
Kurt Calder, communications director, National Federation of Builders
We welcome the decision to guarantee mortgage-backed securities as outlined in our Budget submission to the chancellor. Unfortunately, there seems to be no detail on this. There is still a strong demand for new homes. Supporting that demand with new mortgages is critical to our industry’s survival and its ability to increase output. Guaranteeing mortgage-backed securities is only half the battle – the mechanism might be in place but we still need to see the banks actually lending the money.
The cash-injection into the housing sector is well-meaning but there is no indication of how this will actually work. A better way to stimulate house building would be to reduce the cost imposed by local authorities through Section 106 and affordable housing, so that the schemes become viable again. This would take very little time to implement and would have an immediate effect.
Paul King, chief executive, UK Green Building Council
It’s good to see extra money for cutting carbon in social housing, additional investment in low carbon new homes and some funding of green refurbishment in public sector buildings. Government has sensibly provided additional funding for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme, which will make a real difference to some of the UK’s emerging green businesses.
But this falls short of a comprehensive strategy to put low carbon buildings at the heart of economic recovery. More could have been done to really make green refurbishment affordable and attractive to home owners, businesses and the public sector, in order to both cut carbon emissions and create green-collar jobs. This is a wasted opportunity to map a truly low carbon route out of this recession.
Graham Kean, head of public, EC Harris
A good day for the Homes and Communities Agency. Its three main business drivers were dominant in Darling’s budget today, namely: housing delivery, employment and training, and environmental sustainability. A £1bn financial stimulus package no less, 50% of which is made up of kick-start funds for new starts on site. However, impact will be dependent on flexibility; it will need to be able to provide gap or equity funding – a matter the Treasury will need to get its head around. The rest of the package includes £80m extra for Homebuy Direct; which we estimate will support the purchase of some 4,000 standing stock units (not enough in our view), a much needed £50m to provide better homes to accommodate our returning war heroes and £100m for councils to build energy efficient housing.
Darling extended financial support to those in fear of losing their homes due to loss of income and pledged significant measures in tackling worklessness and insufficient training opportunities. The housing market will need to seek its fair share of this support to tackle its skill retention issues; a matter for the new HCA Academy no doubt.
A further £1bn financial stimulus package was announced to tackle carbon reduction. It is uncertain at this stage how much of this will directly affect housing, but it does feel like Labour’s eco-town initiative has finally bitten the dust and turned into a meagre £100m council-led building programme!