‘Take action to avoid construction slowdown’ say social homebuilders

Today (Tuesday 19 July) at the National Housing Federation’s (NHF) Brexit conference the social housing sector warns of a slowdown in the construction industry. The NHF and the Charted Institute of Housing (CIH) are calling on the Government to back building by housing associations and local authorities to shore up the nation’s economy.

19 July 2016

Early findings from new CEBR analysis suggest a construction slowdown may be on the horizon with shares in construction companies, exchange rates and financial markets all hit by post-referendum uncertainty.

The analysis also shows that a slow in housebuilding similar to that of the 2008 recession would wipe out more than a third of GDP growth (£142.5bn) and result in the loss of nearly 120,000 construction jobs by 2026.

Housing associations, which stepped in during the last recession, are calling for flexibility in existing funding to enable them to build 300,000 homes. Less exposure to market volatility meant that between 2007 and 2009 the non-profit housing association sector upped the number of homes it built by 22%, while private development dropped off 37%.

To do this, the sector wants Government to relax restrictions on the tenure of homes – whether they are built to rent or buy - to allow housing associations to respond to the market. The sector has identified £7 billion of already planned funding, which could be used more flexibly; £4.7 billion for shared ownership and supported housing and £2.3 billion for the remediation of brownfield land for starter homes. For every further billion pounds that the Government invests flexibly, the sector could build 33,000 homes.

Government should also offer councils a refreshed ‘deal’, the sector says, including flexibility in the caps that limit local authority borrowing for housing, in return for specific commitments on new supply, including better use of assets and of local authority-owned land.

It has already identified £300m of extra borrowing for local authority housing, but this needs a better, more flexible, approach if local authorities are to build new homes, at scale.

David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation said:

"The warning signs are flashing amber - housebuilding may be set for a slowdown - but housing associations have a track record of building through tough times. Demand for good quality rented homes remains high.

Today, the sector puts forward a plan of action for the Prime Minister to keep the nation building and tackle the housing crisis. It is a plan that comes at no extra cost to the taxpayer and one that will improve the life chances of hundreds of thousands of working people in this country. Uncertain times call for pragmatism and flexibility.”

Terrie Alafat, Chief Executive at the Chartered Institute of Housing said:

“There are already signs that the housing market is beginning to weaken. It is critical government takes action now to ensure the supply of new housing we need to address our national housing crisis does not falter.

Local authorities and housing associations are not dependent on shareholder sentiment and are able to keep housing supply going when the private sector stalls without requiring extra government spending.

Secure, affordable new homes transform lives, support local and national economic growth and create and maintain jobs, training and education.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors:

For more information, analysis and spokespeople please contact prteam@housing.org.uk or call Naomi Joyner on 020 7067 1146.

The National Housing Federation is the voice of affordable housing in England. We believe that everyone should have the home they need at a price they can afford. That’s why we represent the work of housing associations and campaign for better housing.

Our members provide two and a half million homes for more than five million people. And each year they invest in a diverse range of neighbourhood projects that help create strong, vibrant communities.

For more information visit: www.housing.org.uk

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards. Our goal is simple – to provide housing professionals with the advice, support and knowledge they need to be brilliant. CIH is a registered charity and not-for-profit organisation. This means that the money we make is put back into the organisation and funds the activities we carry out to support the housing sector. We have a diverse membership of people who work in both the public and private sectors, in 20 countries on five continents across the world. Further information is available at: www.cih.org

For interview opportunities or for more information contact Steve Hayes on 024 7685 1788 or 07432 692 688 or email steve.hayes@cih.org