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26 COMMENT


crucial it is that the Government continue to address the issue of access to finance for SME housebuilders. Many small-scale housebuilders continue to experience real difficulty in accessing the finance they need to build homes. Indeed, this data shows that a fifth of construction SMEs have had projects stall in the past three months due to delays to loans, or loan refusals, from the banks. Although concerns over access to finance have eased slightly in recent years, there is more that can be done. Another piece of research we have under-


taken, The House Builder Survey 2018, showed that if firms were able to borrow 80 per cent, rather than the current 60 to 65 per cent of project cost, SME builders would be able to bring forward, on average, 40 per cent more new homes. Given the ambitious housebuilding targets the Government is seeking, we cannot afford to ignore such a chance to significantly increase housing delivery.


BREXIT


Given the impact construction can have on the wider economy, the Government


should seriously consider revisiting the post-Brexit immigration proposals that could cause even further damage to the industry. We know that projects across the country are being stalled because there physically aren’t enough people to build them. We therefore question why the Government thinks it is wise to signifi- cantly limit the number of construction workers coming into the UK post-Brexit. If construction firms are unable to hire


migrant workers of varying skill levels post-Brexit, the already severe skills crisis will worsen, and there is a real danger that housing targets simply won’t be met and infrastructure projects will be delayed. We hope that the Government listens


to the industry – we need to re-focus on economic stability, and ensure an immigration system that recognises the serious challenges the construction industry faces.


WE QUESTION WHY THE GOVERNMENT THINKS IT IS WISE TO SIGNIFICANTLY LIMIT THE NUMBER OF CONSTRUCTION WORKERS COMING INTO THE UK POST-BREXIT


LGA’s Martin Tett: planning is not a barrier to housebuilding


watchdog stated: “We cannot conclude the planning system currently provides value for money in terms of delivering new homes effectively,” councillor Martin Tett, the housing spokesman of the Local Government Association, has come out in defence of planning. Tett’s comments were as follows:


R


“Planning is not a barrier to housebuild- ing. Council planning departments are doing an incredible job with extremely limited resources, approving nine out of 10 applications, with the majority processed quickly. “Councils are committed to ensuring


homes are built where they are needed, are affordable, of high-quality and supported by adequate infrastructure and


WWW.HBDONLINE.CO.UK


esponding to the National Audit Office’s ‘Planning for new homes’ report, in which the Government


services, but it is vital that they have an oversight of local developments. “We remain clear that the Government’s housing needs formula does not take into account the complexity and unique needs of local housing markets, which vary signifi- cantly from place to place, and imposes unfair and undeliverable targets on commu- nities. This risks leading to a housebuilding free-for-all which will bypass the needs of local communities and could damage public trust in the planning system. “By lifting the housing borrowing cap


the Government has accepted our argument that councils must play a leading role in solving our national housing short- age. With hundreds of thousands of homes in England with planning permission but yet to be built, it also needs to give councils powers to make sure developers build out approved homes in a timely


fashion, and use the Spending Review to adequately fund planning departments and allow them to set planning fees locally so they can cover the cost of processing applications.”


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