Allow councils to borrow to build new homes, says FMB

The Federation of Master Builders (FM) is calling on the Government to give local authorities borrowing powers so they can build more social homes to tackle the housing crisis.

The trade body is encouraging the chancellor Phillip Hammond to introduce in his Autumn Statement “a sensible programme of investment” which can provide “a welcome shot in the arm” to the construction sector.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said:

“We simply aren’t building enough new homes to meet current demand, which is why we’re calling for the Chancellor to empower local authorities to borrow money to build thousands of new social homes.

“At a time of political and economic uncertainty, a sensible programme of investment like this could both significantly boost housing output and provide a welcome shot in the arm to a sector that is still jittery over its prospects for the next few years.”

Berry noted that while more measures to tackle the housing shortfall are likely to be revealed in a forthcoming White Paper, a provision for council housebuilding would offer a “safe and sensible way” to creating more homes,

He added:

“Local authorities, who are well placed to identify local housing needs, can play a critical role in financing an increase in housing output in a safe and sensible way.

“We currently spend £1 on house building for roughly every £4 spent on housing benefit. Investing in a longer term solution would therefore make sense even in more certain economic conditions.”

Phillip Hammond will deliver his Autumn Statement on the 23 November.