The FMB represents the sort of smaller and mid-sized SME building companies that make up the meat-and-potato bulk of the construction industry, rather than the top-end corporates. But when it comes to house-building they have been squeezed out – to the detriment, FMB says, of the housing market.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “The Labour Party’s target of at least 100,000 publicly funded social homes per year would help the country get closer to the required 240,000 new homes per year which are needed in England alone. The historic figures leave no room for doubt – 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.
“However, it’s crucial that Labour’s housing policies recognise that smaller developers will be vital in delivering the volume of new housing needed, and that they include practical ways to boost SME capacity. Alongside the decline in significant levels of publicly funded house-building programmes since the 1980s, we’ve also seen a decline in the small local house-builders.
“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 who 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.”
M 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.”