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Government and councils 'could do more'

Builders demand more help to ease housing shortage

housebuildingHousebuilders are demanding more support from the government and local authorities to tackle issues which they say are preventing them from meeting demand for new homes.

The skills crisis and the slow process of decision making in the planning system are among the issues identified in new research by Lloyds Bank.

While the pace of housebuilding is improving, it is not growing fast enough to match demand, it has found.

Slow planning decisions are said to be a concern for 46% of respondents to a survey, while public opposition to development is identified by 42% and a lack of skilled workers by 25%. More than a third (35%) believe there is a lack of suitable candidates to fill existing and new jobs.

The bank quizzed a broad range of companies in the housing supply chain, from SME contractors to major national developers.

The skills shortage is most acute among electricians and site managers, with project managers, quantity surveyors and architects close behind.

Housebuilders are taking their own steps to redress the balance, with a third prioritising investment in recruiting apprentices, but there is a call for greater local authority support to promote and fund building projects, together with additional government support.

Existing government schemes such as stamp duty reform and the Help to Buy equity scheme, were flagged by 73 % and 63% respectively as having a positive impact on the housing crisis.

Despite the challenges cited in the report, home builders seem to be optimistic about the future, with respondents giving an average score of seven out of ten when asked to rate their confidence in the success of the industry.

Almost 90% wanted to create jobs in the next 12 months, and if replicated across the industry, this could create more than 100,000.

Alasdair Gardner, regional managing director, Bank of Scotland Commercial, said: “This report sheds light on the key areas of support that firms in the sector need to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of the industry. Clearly, housebuilders are very concerned about the barriers preventing them from playing a role in alleviating the housing shortage.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman, Home Builders Federation, said: “A shortage of skilled people has become the biggest concern and the industry is investing massively in training.

“If a positive policy environment and a stable economy can be maintained, the industry will continue to grow to deliver the Government’s ambition to build more homes and tackle our entrenched housing crisis.”

The publication of Building for Growth comes just months after January’s launch of a report by the Lloyds Banking Group Commission on Housing, which sets out a roadmap towards the sustained supply of good quality new homes.

The aim of the commission is to generate cross-party agreement on key policy areas that could make a significant difference in providing greater levels of new homes, and it calls for a progressively rising target for national housebuilding that will deliver two million to 2.5 million homes by 2025.

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