In his Spring Statement, Philip Hammond encouragingly made a welcomed commitment to tackling the massive housing shortage in the UK. Given that the government must ensure that any measures set out align with the funding and resources of council planning departments in order to get them building, we are very much in support of these measures that have been set out. It is great to see that the government is supporting the mayor of the West Midlands’ plan to deliver 215,000 homes with £100 million of planned funding. This is very much in line with the housing manifesto that Urban Exposure launched for the West Midlands, which includes a series of proposals designed to help deliver 165,000 new homes the West Midlands needs by 2030.
54% of respondents to the 2017 FMB House Builders Survey identified one of the major hurdles faced by housing developers, in particular SME builders, being a lack of finance. A more diverse housebuilding market, in terms or both size and the type of developers in the West Midlands is vital in accelerating the number of houses built. The £60 million that the government has allocated to boost the Housing Growth Partnership fund which supports SME housebuilders is thus key to diversifying the market, and assisting small to medium sizes developers that have faced considerable challenges post crisis to contribute to the UK’s housing market again.
Overall, the measures set out by Hammond are very much making big strides in the right direction, and we will continue to intensify the role we play in supporting smaller developers and financing regional developments such as our recent Bruton and Welwyn Garden City deals.
We also look forward to engaging with the findings of the final Letwin review in the autumn. While we continue to believe the issue of land banking is misunderstood, we hope any subsequent recommendations will help, not hinder, housebuilders of all shapes and sizes from getting on with delivering the homes the UK desperately needs and turn the focus on to other key supply side issues such as skills and training that continue to hold output levels back.
Read Oliver Letwins letter here.
A summary of property industry reactions to the Autumn statement can be read here.