Responding to the Chancellor George Osborne’s budget announcement regarding the extension of the Help to Buy scheme and the development of a new garden city, Mark Oliver, managing director of H+H, has welcomed the short term stability the scheme brings for the construction sector but calls on Ed Balls to make clear Labour’s position on the scheme in order to allow companies to begin making long-term investment decisions.
One of the first to call for of a government backed scheme as far back as 2010 Oliver has continually supported Help to Buy with regards to more houses being built. He said: “There is no denying that the scheme has brought about a much needed boost for all involved in the house building sector. It was the stimulus that was very much needed both in terms of addressing the shortage of housing and also getting the industry moving again.”
However, he remains wary of making long-term investment decisions such as increasing production capacity given the looming election.
Oliver said: “Any significant business decisions need to be based on scenarios as far into the future as 2027. Looking beyond the next election the critical assumption that needs to be made is with regards to the timing, duration and magnitude of the next house building peak.
“There are many different figures being bandied around with regards to house building targets but very few strategies accompanying them : at the Labour party conference Ed Milliband stated Britain will be building 200,000 homes a year by 2020; Danny Alexander told last year’s Housing Market Intelligence Conference that the Liberal Democrat’s 2015 manifesto will include a goal of building 300,000 new homes per annum and on Sunday (16 March 2014) the Chancellor said that extending Help to Buy to 2020 (previously intending to end it in 2016) would mean a further 120,000 new homes.”
Oliver welcomes the second part of the announcement regarding the development of a new garden city in Kent. Back in December he said: “The only way that I can see these higher levels of house building occurring will be if we do something very different… Building self-contained communities as opposed to new developments on the outskirts of existing towns could dramatically increase the number of plots.”
Today he said: “Garden cities could be that ‘something very different’ and exactly what is needed to further boost the number of house building starts.
“As a manufacturer of a product produced in UK factories and used primarily in house building it would be great to see the number of starts growing to the targets set by Danny Alexander. But, until I hear of specific strategies and positions, from both the Government and opposition parties, particularly Labour, I will be relying very much on my own figures as it cannot be taken for granted that the current upturn will continue indefinitely.”