Following Chancellor Philip Hammond’s delivery of the Spring Statement to the House of Commons, the housebuilding sector has responded.
On skills, Hammond pledged £500m for the rolling out of T-levels and another £50m to ensure T-level work placements. In addition, the Government will also make £80m available for those SMEs “engaging an apprentice”.
On housing and planning, the Chancellor announced the Government’s pledge to make £44bn available to bring housing supply to 300,000 units per year by the mid-2020s, as well as £1.7bn to build 26,000 new affordable homes in London.
The House Builders Association (HBA) – the housebuilding division of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) – believes that the Government has identified the key ingredients to tackling the housing crisis, but not the implementation strategy to put them into effect.
Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the NFB, said: “If the Chancellor is serious about reaching 300,000 housing units per year, supporting apprenticeships and diversifying educational achievement through T-levels, then he will need SME housebuilders and constructors.
“SMEs not only train and retain two thirds of construction apprentices but they are our predominant private sector and rural employer. Government must deliver bolder planning reform, fairer procurement and a better understanding of the entire development process if it has any hope of making a success of today’s announcements.”
In response to the Spring Statement, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said that the Chancellor’s announcement of a new consultation on late payment should be the beginning of the end for unfair payment practices which hit small businesses across the UK. Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, commented: “The Chancellor’s announcement of a consultation to tackle the scourge of late payment today should mark a turning point on this issue. We should use this opportunity to bring about a spring clean of payment practices which negatively impact on small business. Construction giant Carillion’s collapse at the start of the year brought to light once again the need to eliminate poor payment practises that plague the construction sector particularly.
“At first glance, the Spring Statement has brought some other positive announcements for the UK’s small construction firms. The announcement of a doubling of funding to the Lloyd’s Housing Growth Partnership and an additional £80m funding to support SME firms looking to engage an apprentice is welcome news. With Brexit looming large on the horizon and the construction industry facing a chronic skills crisis, it’s of the utmost importance that more skilled workers begin to join the sector. An additional £50m to support T level training will further aid this aim.”
James Thomson, Chief Executive of Keepmoat Homes, also responded. He added: “We welcome the Government’s continued focus on housebuilding. Providing greater clarity and guidance to housebuilders is a welcome step as we work towards delivering the homes the country so urgently needs.
Our new research shows that the average first-time buyer is now seven years older than in 1960 and needs to save more than £20,000 extra in order to be able to purchase a home. The Chancellor should continue to increase the affordability and supply of homes, particularly for young people.
We support a number of measures to reform Help to Buy, such as restricting the scheme to first time buyers, lowering the income cap for eligible purchasers, and lowering the price cap for eligible homes. We have also already engaged with the Letwin Review and look forward to working with the Government as the planning process remains the major barrier to growth in the industry.”