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16 October, 2014

Labour housing commitments welcome

Policies to speed up land delivery and help first time buyers could play a vital part in increasing supply.  

The house building industry welcomes Labour’s recognition of the country’s acute housing crisis and its commitment to increase housing delivery to 200,000.

Whilst we await the detail and look forward to working with Labour to develop policies, commitments to assist first time buyers and ensure more land comes forward more quickly are clearly sensible.

In terms of the specifics unveiled so far;

  • Finding ways to bring forward more land for development more quickly is also key if we are to deliver the homes we need. If the Housing Growth Areas can do that, and work with companies of all sizes within the wider market, then that is a positive.  In our plan led system, ensuring local authorities have Local Plans in place is also vital. Currently only just over half have an adopted housing plan. Policies focussed on driving the number of authorities with plans up will clearly assist and ensure all parties can work together to deliver the homes an area needs and reduce the tensions and conflict associated with ‘planning by appeal’.      
  • Assisting smaller developers will be key. If we are to build 200,000 homes a year, getting more companies of all sizes building new homes is essential. SMEs were particularly hard hit by the recession and policies that give them access to business finance and allow them to bring sites forward will help significantly.
  • First time buyers are key to the market and the industry’s ability to deliver. First time buyers’ inability to buy during the downturn played a significant part in the drop in housing supply. However, any policies that seek to manage markets will need careful thought and to be aligned to other demand side polices.
  • Delivering new towns is a complex process. If Labour can find a way to bring forward such ventures it would provide a boost to housing supply in the long term. A focus on positive short-term policies however must remain.

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said;

“ We welcome the commitment by Labour to increase housing supply. Whilst we have seen a big increase in house building activity in recent months, we are still not delivering enough homes to meet the country’s needs. Policies that would result in more land coming forward for development more quickly and further assist first time buyers would clearly provide a boost to housing supply. We look forward to working with the Labour party to develop their policies as we move towards the general election.” 

Notes to editors

  1. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s member firms account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies: www.hbf.co.uk