The Inside Edge
The big news for housing this week came with the cabinet reshuffle that saw Grant Shapps moved from housing minister with Mark Prisk taking his place. Mr Prisk, the Conservative MP for Hertford and Stortford has been told in some quarters that he has a daunting task and that he must address many industry issues without delay.
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has been particularly vocal in the wake of Mr Prisk’s appointment as it raises concerns above the future for new builds in the UK. Earlier this week, Steve Turner who is Head of Communications at HBF urged the government to put pressure on the country’s banks to increase their overall lending.
“There are ways that the government can help but ultimately we need to see the banks lending more money – it is exactly the same as for mortgages,” Mr Turner said.
Those comments came after claims that development finance represented the biggest obstacle to sustained home building and not planning policy as many believe.
On the HBF website however, the federation goes even further in putting their point across as they urge the new housing minister to ‘hit the ground running’. The HBF claim that at present, we are building homes at the slowest rate since the 1920’s and that we are only providing half of the country’s overall requirements.
The HBF go on to state that they are looking for the coalition government to address what it calls a severe lack of mortgage credit and development finance. Amongst other issues, the federation has also asked that funding is maintained for the FirstBuy scheme which has been responsible for 10,000 new homes in the UK.
It all adds up to a daunting task for the new incumbent – a fact which the HBF acknowledge.
“We welcome Mark Prisk to the role. Whilst he has an unenviable intray, it is clear that he understands the scale of the job in front of him with his background in the sector,” said Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF.
“We hope he will offer some radical ideas to transform the current housing and planning systems and tackle the housing crisis, providing economic growth and jobs, and strengthening communities across the country. In his previous role he undertook some positive work to reduce regulation, a commitment his Government has also made with regards to housing and something we hope he will now deliver on.”
The federation go on to welcome Mr Prisk and while the size of the issues facing the housing market as whole are a significant task, the questions that relate to new home builds are obviously going to take up a major proportion of the new Housing Minister’s role.