Housing minister calls for a dynamic housing market in which SMEs can thrive

At an event hosted by the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Housing Minister Mark Prisk called for an increased contribution from SMEs to the housing market.

Whilst acknowledging the government’s efforts to involve SMEs in housebuilding by selling off public sector land in smaller chunks, the Housing Minister also highlighted the need to make markets more dynamic, thus involving a wider range of partners.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “The current government has actually done a lot to promote housebuilding but more has to be done to encourage partnerships in the industry.”

Prisk continued to stress that existing land and housing supply in the UK must be better utilised, saying: “we must make better use of what we have developed and built.”

To allow this to happen, a radical shake up of the national planning framework is needed. He said whilst Help to Buy is ‘ramping up confidence’ and ultimately contributing to supply, many young people are still struggling to get onto the housing ladder.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, placed a greater emphasis on housing supply, suggesting that better incentives need to be put into place to encourage wider SME involvement in housebuilding.

He went on to explain that 60 per cent of FMB members considered access to finance a large problem for SMEs. The issue of tax for smaller house builders was also stressed. Berry urged for community infrastructure contributions to be exempt on smaller developments of fewer than ten plots.

He said: “The government has got it right on the demand side, but we now need to look at the supply.”

Julia Evans agreed, highlighting that great emphasis must be placed on housebuilding if the UK is to avoid a very real crisis. She then laid emphasis on the work being done between the industry and government, referring to the NFB and FMB’s involvement in the industrial strategy for construction and meetings between NFB members and the government’s chief construction adviser. Not only is this work key, but a “strong partnership between government and the industry is also essential” should the housing market be ignited to meet with growing demand.