A report by economist Kate Barker has blamed housebuilders and planners for Britain's undersupply of housing.
The Barker report says the planning system is too complicated and that it takes too long to decide planning applications. The report also criticises housebuilders for being more interested in buying land than developing it.

The report said: "The problem [of undersupply] relates in part to the housebuilding industry, in particular … its reluctance to build out large sites quickly."

The report says many housebuilders hold considerable amounts of undeveloped land that has received planning permission.

The Barker report, which was commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasury in May, will make specific recommendations in the spring.

Some industry commentators are predicting that housebuilders will face increased land taxes and red tape. Alastair Stewart, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, said that recommendations could include taxes for builders that "sit" on their landbanks.

Barker herself criticised housebuilders for maximising their profits by releasing homes too slowly. In her report she proposes imposing VAT on new-build houses to encourage refurbishment of old stock and raise the quality of new homes.

She said: "In order to best maximise profits many housebuilders control production rates and 'trickle out' no more than 100-200 houses per annum from a large development."

Pierre Williams, spokesperson for the House Builders Federation, said the report primarily blamed planners. He said: "The Barker review points the finger at the planning system's failure to grant sufficient permissions, which is the real reason for housing undersupply and rising prices."

The report says an additional 145,000 homes a year will be needed to lower real house price inflation to the European average of 1.1%.

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