Builders come first: Labour’s new housing targets must prioritise local builders, says FMB

Intruders broke into the Newlands building site.

Intruders broke into the Newlands building site. - Credit: Archant

“It’s crucial that Labour’s housing policies recognise that smaller developers will be vital in delivering the volume of new housing needed,” comments Brian Berry, Cheif Exec of the Federation of Master Builders.

The Labour Party has proposed a national house building programme with a target of at least 100,000 publicly funded social homes per year, which would help the country get closer to the required 240,000 new homes per year which are evidently needed in England alone.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) have been quick to point out the specific need to place local tradesmen at the centre of these plans, should they come to fruition.

“The historic figures leave no room for doubt,” says Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB. “The only time we’ve achieved sufficient levels of house building have been when local authorities were empowered to invest in new homes on a significant scale.”

Berry highlights this thanks to the noticeable decline in significant levels of publicly funded house building programmes since the 1980s, and its resultant decline in the use of smaller local builders.

He continued: “In the late 1980s, SME house builders built two-thirds of all new homes but now they build somewhere between a quarter and one third. It’s local builders which train the vast majority of construction apprentices. Local firms plough money back into the local economy and are able to provide consumers with real choice when it comes to new homes. Empowering small house builders would therefore not only help achieve our housing targets, it would also provide numerous benefits to local communicates up and down the country.”

Berry concluded: “We would stress that Labour’s proposal to lift the borrowing cap on local authorities is a sensible one – if councils are allowed to borrow against their assets and invest in house building, it would empower them to once again launch significant local house building programmes and help solve our ever worsening housing crisis. We look forward to inputting to the newly announced Redfern Review of housing so we can help the Labour Party develop sensible solutions to the housing crisis.”