More homes will be built across England but Government target may not be met


More than half of house builders in England increased the rate at which they built new homes over the last year and predict a further rise over the next 12 months, a newly published survey shows.

Despite this, less than half of house builders think that the Government target of building 300,000 homes a year on average by the mid 2020s is achievable, according to the survey of more than 400 house building companies in England construction consulting and design agency McBains.

Some 57% of respondents overall reported they had increased their rate of house building over the last 12 months and overall, they said they had built, on average, 201 homes over the last year. This was expected to rise to 297 over the next 12 months.

This figure increased to 66% in London confirming an increase in building while 11% in England decreased their rate of new home construction and 32% remained unchanged.

However, respondents to the survey cited worries over land availability, slow planning permission and skills shortages as barriers to preventing them building more homes.

Around half of respondents, 48%, said these factors would also make it difficult for the government to meet its target of building 300,000 homes a year on average by the mid-2020s.

Of those that stated a decrease, the most popular reasons were not enough available or appropriate land, planning permission taking too long, not enough skilled labour and the non-availability of finance.

All respondents were asked what the biggest issues affecting the amount of homes they can build. Some 55% said it was land availability, 49% said slow planning permission and 47% cited skills shortages.

Of the homes to be built over the next 12 months, house builders expected 22% of these new homes to be classed as affordable homes for rent or sale.

When asked what one single thing housebuilders thought the Government should prioritise for the industry to increase house building, they said incentivising large construction companies to develop more expeditiously to dissuade them from holding onto land, such as introducing a land value tax, while others said providing loan finance to help support small and medium sized developers build more homes.

Clive Docwra, managing director of McBains, said that while it is encouraging that house builders are increasing the rate at which they are building homes, issues such as a lack of appropriate land, slow planning permission and skills shortages remain significant factors holding back construction.

‘This is why the majority of respondents are sceptical that the Government’s housing targets will be met. In particular, the construction industry relies on thousands of skilled European Union workers because of skills shortages in the domestic workforce, and with these workers potentially prevented from working in the UK after the Brexit transition period ends in 2021, many housebuilders will be struggling to find the workforce needed to build the new homes that are urgently needed,’ he pointed out.

‘And for those people struggling to get a foot on the property ladder, the finding that only around one in five of new homes to be built over the next year will fall into the affordable category will be disappointing,’ he added.



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