Philip Hammond 'plans Budget construction skills push'
Philip Hammond will reportedly set aside cash in next week's Budget to train tens of thousands of skilled workers to help tackle the housing crisis.
The Sun reports that the Chancellor is battling fellow Cabinet ministers about how to get more homes built, with arguments over how much the Government should borrow to fund construction and whether planning rules should be relaxed.
Mr Hammond apparently believes a key element to improving supply is investing more in the labour force, with plans for special 'skills villages' alongside construction sites in order to quickly train workers.
At the moment there are around 170,000 homes a year being built in the UK, but ministers want to boost that to 300,000.
But they face a battle with their own Tory MPs over whether or not to relax planning laws affecting the green belt, which some backbenchers vehemently oppose in their areas.
David Hawkes, Policy Manager at the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) said: “Research has shown that labour supply has been the biggest source of capacity constraint for the construction industry over the past 15 years. Boosting the quality and quantity of the construction labour force is critical to deliver the homes and infrastructure that the country needs, alongside other improvements to productivity such as investment in innovation."
Mr Hammond is also reportedly preparing to reduce stamp duty for first-time buyers to make getting on the housing ladder more affordable for younger people.
But he is resisting calls from Communities Secretary Sajid Javid for the Government to borrow some £50bn to fund more housebuilding, with the Treasury apparently concerned this will add too much to the national debt.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is said to be personally opposed to plans to allow more building on the Green Belt.
Read the full CIOB repsonse here.