“We will build more,” say UK house builders

Major house builders last week met with Housing Minister Mark Prisk to tell him that the demand side mortgage support measures introduced by Government were working and would lead directly to more homes being built.

Speaking after the meeting, Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF said” “Help to Buy has been an unqualified success. It is addressing a lack of mortgage availability- the main constraint on the market, and if people can buy, builders can build. With the traditionally busy Autumn house buying period upon us, all the signs are that the next couple of months will see a significant number of people realising their ambition of home ownership.”

Indeed, the meeting followed new figures from the government that showed 12500 reservations have been made through the Government’s Help to Buy scheme up to the end of August – placing the scheme well on target to deliver the 74,000 homes intended over the next few years.

Jeff Fairburn, Group Chief Executive of Persimmon, said that they had enjoyed a “notable increase” in customer interest and traffic since the announcement in April, prompting them to increase their build activity.

Pete Redfern, Chief Executive of Taylor Wimpey said that the growth in demand had given them more confidence about investing in future sites and infrastructure, which creates more jobs and economic activity locally.

“The number of homes we sold last year was up 20% on two years ago,” commented Mark Clare, Chief Executive of Barratt. “We are now preparing for further growth and have committed £1 billion to land investment for new homes and we’re also expanding the business by taking on 600 new apprentices and graduates to tackle the skills shortage.”

The meeting also addressed what steps could be taken to address the other constraints on supply – the planning system and regulatory costs.

“If [Help to Buy] is to ultimately lead to a significant and sustained increase in housing supply, Ministers still need to act on the other constraints on supply – a lack of land and excessive regulatory costs,” added Baseley.

Housing Minister Mark Prisk commented: “The housing market has turned a corner since the end of the unsustainable housing boom. There are more first time buyers than at any time since 2007, while housing supply is at its highest level since 2008 and growing at the fastest rate for three years.

“As a Government we have worked hard and prioritised limited financial resources to help the housing market through one of its toughest times and create the right conditions for it to flourish. So I’m delighted that developers have pledged to use this momentum to increase output and get Britain building again.”