Housebuilders have called for the government to suspend its plan to make new homes zero-carbon by 2016, after the housing minister admitted that “flexibility” was needed.

The House Builders Association (HBA), which represents smaller builders, has written to Margaret Beckett, calling for her to reduce regulatory costs on the industry.

The submission said the government should introduce an emergency circular informing councils that homes do not have to meet the code.

The submission follows a speech given on Beckett’s behalf last week to the National House-Building Council, in which she declared the government should not be “dogmatic” about how the zero-carbon target was reached.