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Government 'must invest in construction to secure jobs and homes'

Federation of Master Builders

4 min read Partner content

Gearing up ahead of tonight’s panel discussion, Brandon Lewis MP, Emma Reynolds MP, and Stephen Williams MP size up their housebuilding pledges.

Any future Government must invest in construction to secure jobs and new homes, the Federation of Master Builders(FMB) has said.

The trade association will today launch its ‘Programme for Government’ which highlights key policy priorities that it believes politicians at all levels should be focused on during the next Parliament.

Building more new houses and increasing apprenticeship opportunities in the construction industry are top of the agenda.

Alongside that the FMB is also calling for a political commitment to creating greener homes, improving efficiency in public procurement and providing SME housebuilders greater with access to finance.

FMB Chief Executive Brian Berry challenged the next government to work with industry to develop a “robust housing strategy” and achieve the “realistic target” of 200,000 new homes a year by 2020.

“The construction industry, which includes housing, is vital to the health of the UK economy – for every £1 invested in construction, 92p stays within the UK.

“Construction is also central to delivering the Government’s key social and environmental aims which is why we hope policy makers take on board all of the proposals contained within the FMB’s ‘Programme for Government’,” he added.

The plan will be officially unveiled this evening at a panel debate hosted by Labour MP Chris Williamson, where speakers will include Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds and Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams.

Commenting ahead of the event Mr Williams highlighted his party’s record on housebuilding and reiterated their promise of 300,000 more new homes annually.

He said: “Since 2010, Liberal Democrats in government have set out to rebalance the housing market after decades of mismanagement from successive Conservative and Labour administrations.

“The Coalition will, in fact, be the first government in over thirty years to deliver a net rise in the social housing stock.

“We want to build on this progress after 2015 and have committed to building 300,000 new homes a year in order to meet growing demand.”

However, Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds expressed a less positive interpretation of the Coalition’s record on the issue, as well as setting out her party’s housebuilding pledges.

She said: “We are not even building half the number of homes that we need to keep up with demand.

“A record number of young people in their twenties and thirties are living at home with their parents.

“Many young people and families are priced out of home ownership and some of these families are living in overcrowded conditions.

“Under this Tory-led Government we have seen the lowest level of housebuilding in peacetime since the 1920s.”

"Labour has set out a comprehensive plan to get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 by bringing forward more land, tackling land speculation, increasing competition in private housebuilding and boosting commissioning and building of homes by local authorities."

Mr Williams was similarly supportive of the FMB’s desire to increase construction apprenticeships, saying that whilst the Government had already succeeded in raising the number to over 1.8 million nationwide, the Liberal Democrats would seek to “increase this figure further over the course of the next parliament.”

Ms Reynolds echoed his sentiments, saying apprenticeships were necessary to “overcome the skills gap” and drive employment in the UK.

Labour would, she said, “give employers greater control of money for training and powers to set training standards that genuinely meet their interests and the needs of young people, but in return we ask they work to increase the number of high quality apprenticeships in the industry and through their supply chains.

“We are also determined to protect the apprenticeship brand from being devalued by low quality courses.

“We want to work with the industry towards a system in which all the housebuilding and construction apprenticeships are level three qualifications and last a minimum of two years.”

Labour’s plans also extend to boosting the number of SMEs in housebuilding.

“We are determined to reverse the decline of our small builders,” Ms Reynolds said.

“Labour will boost access to finance for small builders by introducing a new Help to Build scheme which will allow SMEs to access lower cost bank lending supported by Treasury guarantees.

“We will also work with the banks to help overcome the barriers to lending to small firms.

“We will also increase their access to land by requiring Local Authorities to include a higher proportion of small sites in their five year land supply.

“We will give guaranteed access to public land to smaller firms and custom builders. And we will introduce fast-track planning rules for small sites of less than ten homes through red-line applications,” she added.

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