Housing minister announces plan to provide work for local labour and trainees on government-funded schemes

Housing associations will have to employ apprentices and local labour on government-funded building schemes, it was announced yesterday.  

Speaking at the National Housing Federation annual conference, housing minister, John Healey, told housing association chiefs that the communities department had calculated that the initiative would lead to 1,500 extra apprenticeships over the next two years.

Healey has already informed private sector partners that they must use apprentices and local labour if they are applying for cash from the £1.5bn housing pledge and that  the move made the system consistent.

He batted away questions about the price of the scheme, saying it was his responsibility as a minister to justify the use of public money .

“If I am requiring this of private developers it seems consistent to require if of housing associations,” he said. “Quite bluntly, if you don’t want government support and you don’t want government grant: don’t ask for it.” 

Delegates at the conference estimated that the scheme would cost housing associations a minimum of £200 a week even though apprentices would regularly be away college for two days.

Healey also offered support to housing associations to encourage them to take part in the mortgage rescue scheme, enouraging them to purchase houses from people struggling to make payments to and lease it back to them.

He said he would give the Homes and Communities Agency leeway to increase the grant rate for each home bought and rented back from 55% to 65% of the sale price.