Housing minister makes £100m available after original £570m fund not all spent

Grant Shapps

The government has re-launched its Get Britain Building scheme designed to kick-start stalled housing sites with £100m of funding after the original scheme underspent.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has re-opened the competition for the £570m of funding, originally launched in November last year, because £100m of funding was ultimately unclaimed by developers.

The new round of bids, expected to deliver 2,000 homes, will be more focused on smaller builders, with sites for as little as 15 homes eligible to bid for the government loans or investments for the first time.

The original programme, run by the HCA, was designed to help schemes that were economically viable but stalled because of an inability to find funding. Building understands that the scheme failed to spend all of the original cash because some developers later managed to find funding, and other schemes were found not to be viable.

Grant Shapps said: “By spreading the net wider and boosting the number of eligible sites we can offer more help to builders both large and small.

“We saw huge appetite last time for this funding but some developers later found they could build without the fund. We need to be sure every single pound of taxpayers’ money works as hard as it can so we can get as many homes as possible out of Get Britain Building. That is why I’m inviting further bids.

“We’ve already started seeing the benefits this is bringing to the industry and the economy as a whole. I now want to see as many firms as possible grabbing this opportunity to get the diggers back on site.”

In February Shapps had welcomed the “clamour” from developers for the scheme and said it was three times oversubscribed. This prompted the government to make an extra £150m available to the scheme in the Budget in March, bringing the total pot to £570m.

The fund replaces Labour’s effort in 2009 to unlock stalled sites, called Kickstart, which was worth £900m in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Originally the scheme was opened only to sites of more than 25 homes.

Homes and Communities Agency chief executive Pat Ritchie said: “As with the original submissions, the HCA will continue to be thorough in our due diligence, and will only support those schemes backed by the community, which boost the local economy and provide a secure and value for money investment for the taxpayer.”

The move comes following the intervention of business secretary Vince Cable, who yesterday convened a meeting of senior housing industry leaders in order to boost housebuilding, after hinting at using government guarantees to boost lending to new build social housing. Housing starts fell 11% in the first three months of the year on the last quarter of 2011.

The deadline for applications to the latest round of Get Britain Building is 12pm, 25 July 2012.

A prospectus can be found here.