House Builders Association
The HBA is very active in lobbying government to formulate policy that encourages and rewards smaller housebuilders; we can point to many successes that have changed the landscape for small and medium-sized house builders.
The HBA is also the key forum for information sharing about the housing sector for small and medium-sized housebuilders, providing newsletters, forums and direct one-to-one advice that ensures companies are best placed for success.
We understand the link between construction and housing and we understand the policy landscape inside-out. Our overriding aim is to use our knowledge and influence to support members to win more work, more consistently.
Representing small and medium-sized house builders, the HBA is determined to deliver opportunities to the most productive sector of the construction industry. The HBA lobbies for policy changes and supports members through business and skills training, as well as providing opportunities to win work.
We believe SMEs are integral to building the homes people want in the places they want to live. SME house builders deliver quality, speed, affordability, tackle difficult to deliver sites, and are important to the local economy. The HBA brings this message to the very heart of Government and local authorities.
With devolution continuing to move powers away from Westminster, Wales has become an integral part of the HBA’s focus. Collaborating with Construction Excellence Wales, as well as being part of Wales Futures Group, the HBA continues to challenge conventional approaches and to deliver more strategic policies. SMEs are integral to Wales meeting its housing targets and we are determined that the devolved administration understands and acts on this.
We work on frameworks with local authorities, on procurement processes with Government bodies such as Homes England, and with regional strategy managers. All of this work is to increase SME engagement and to ensure all parties understand the critical role small and medium-sized house builders play in the industry and in our economy.
Advice and guidance
Sharing critical news, developments and best practice is invaluable to small and medium sized house builders. The HBA sends out a newsletter every week, full of the latest policy news, information about funding, lessons learnt and critical commercial information.
The HBA holds quarterly meetings, which are a fantastic forum for similar companies to share information across the regions. Many members have commented on the value of these networking meetings, where they have learned about issues – and resolutions – that they would otherwise have missed.
The HBA also works with members whenever an issue arises, ensuring they have all they need to deal with it. For example, when a warranty provider collapsed recently, we worked with that provider to ascertain all the details so we could fully understand the position this left some of our members in, so we could then advise the best course of action.
NFB members automatically have access to the HBA’s specialist advisors on policy, training, funding, partnerships and winning work.
Our lobbying undoubtedly produces real, significant, practical results that dramatically affect our members for the better.
Recent partnerships with Shelter, Natural England and the Community Land Trust Network have delivered much-needed changes to the policy process. Research from Shelter has identified SMEs as those most likely to meet affordability targets. The Government accepts community land trusts as part of diverse supply.
Developers building in areas where the Great Crested Newt is prevalent are already benefiting from our work on Species Licensing and Mitigation, which is being rolled out across the country: this has stopped SME house builders having to wait up to 10 months before getting on site.
Another example: urban small sites with fewer than 10 units now do not have to provide affordable housing contributions, whilst local plans must also identify at least 20% of their housing supply for small sites.
Because we are close to policy-makers and all levels of administration, we are able to alert members to developments such as a change in policy or the creation of a fund specifically for SMEs, so our members can take advantage. They can concentrate on building beautiful homes and rely on us to be the first to find out – and interpret and advise on – all the information they need to know from policy-makers.
We also lobby at a local level, which brings the additional advantage of being able to speak to local authorities on a member’s behalf if they have an issue: this means we can help resolve a problem without our member risking damage to important relationships.
Simplifying the planning system is a key priority for the HBA. SME house builders must be able to build without going through a costly and lengthy planning process.The HBA is lobbying relentlessly for planning reform, focusing in particular on planning conditions, the statutory planning period and local plan-making.
Although access to finance and land has improved, the HBA continues to work with banks, the Government, and alternative lenders to make sure SMEs are supported to grow. Continued efforts to widen access to finance have seen the HBA working with Homes England, the Housing Growth Partnership, and Regentsmead.
Encouraging small site development has been an important ambition for us because not only does it stimulate housing output but it also allows SMEs to plan ahead and have confidence in their pipeline of work so they invest confidently in their growth.
Planning and procurement remains weighted in favour of larger developers but we believe our lobbying work is helping to level the playing field and we will be tireless in our efforts to ensure our members can compete fairly and consistently.
As well as looking at the big picture in terms of the sector as a whole and lobbying Government, we also like to work with members more directly. We share best practice and are able to disseminate news or policy developments that affect members with unmatched speed. We are always available for members to contact us and are happy to undertake research on their behalf.