The importance given to housing in the Conservative Party manifesto should be applauded but it will be important for the next government to remain focused on housing supply as well as housing ownership, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
“There is a lot to welcome in the Conservative manifesto, above all its determined focus on improving access to the market for first time buyers,” said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB.
“Affordability for first time buyers is crucial to the health of the housing market and crucial to health of the building industry. The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme has been hugely successful in this regard and the Help to Buy ISA and Starter Homes schemes should continue to improve options and affordability for younger first time buyers.”
However, Mr Berry added than in order to deliver its ambitions, the next government will need to remain focused on the barriers to housing supply and need for greater diversity in the house building industry; in particular minimising the barriers to SME house builders building out small sites.
He welcomed the announced Brownfield Fund and said, if sensibly administered, it could be very beneficial to that section of the market.
“The Conservatives in government have also shown a welcome determination to rationalise the planning system, but there remain further gains to be made here and it will be important for the next government, whoever that is, to maintain this supply-side focus,” Mr Berry added.
Commenting on the Liberal Democrat pledge to borrow only for productive investment in housing, the FMB said this strikes the right balance between paying down the deficit, boosting economic growth and addressing the housing crisis.
"Like most business leaders, I'm keen to see the next government reduce the budget deficit and build a stronger economy. The Liberal Democrat pledge to only borrow for capital spending that enhances economic growth or financial stability, will not only boost the economy, it will also help address the housing shortfall,” said Mr Berry.
“Also, the Party's commitment to ensure that investment in infrastructure, including in housing and energy efficiency, continues to rise both in absolute terms and as a share of the economy is much-needed and welcome."
The Liberal Democrats have dedicated ten pages of their manifesto document to housing and have pledged to build 300,000 new homes a year to meet the current demand for new homes, while also addressing the backlog.
“This shows the Party understands that the housing crisis is one of the greatest challenges our country faces. We particularly welcome their equal focus on improving our existing homes, which is essential if we are to maximise the existing stock and at the same time, meet our ambitious carbon reduction targets. The next Government must get its approach to new and existing homes absolutely right if we have any hope of solving the housing crisis," Mr Berry concluded.