Housing minister says talks ongoing with Aviva despite failure so far to convince it to invest in homes

The government is continuing discussions with pension funds in an attempt to spur them to invest in the housing market, housing minister Grant Shapps has said.

Speaking on the fringe of the Conservative conference this morning, Shapps said that talks with Aviva were ongoing, despite a failure so far to convince the fund to invest in homes for private rent. He said: “Believe you me, we’ve been round the block trying to get it going. We are still pushing. We are still trying.”

Shapps added that he believed the industry and mortgage lenders needed to “do more” to assist first time buyers. He said: “The industry needs to step up to the plate with mortgage lenders and come up with some kind of fund.”

He said that although the first time buying market had seen improvement compared with a year ago, with significant loosening between February and May this year, he was concerned that progress might have been undone over the summer.

“There has been a lot of turmoil, and I’m concerned we might have gone backwards,” he said.