13 March 2018

Spring statement 2018: only better planning can fix the housing crisis

Philip Hammond, chancellor of the Exchequer, delivered his first spring statement to the House of Commons.

The chancellor reported on economic forecasts published by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), which reported higher than expected GDP growth of 1.7% in 2017 and 1.5% 2018. However, economic growth is set to remain under 1.5% between 2018 and 2022.

On skills, Hammond pledged £500 million for the rolling out of T-levels and another £50 million to ensure T-level work placements. In addition, the Government will also make £80 million available for those SMEs “engaging an apprentice”.

On housing and planning, the chancellor announced the Government’s pledge to make £44 billion available to bring housing supply to 300,000 units per year by the mid-2020s, as well as £1.7 billion to build 26,000 new affordable homes in London.

The House Builders Association (HBA) – the house building division of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) – believes that the Government has identified the key ingredients to tackling the housing crisis, but not the implementation strategy to put them into effect.

In other words, the Government has provided significant financial support towards tackling late payment, skills shortages and housing supply, but not a common thread aimed at solving the housing crisis. The chancellor’s statement to bring annual house building to 300,000 units by the mid-2020s also denotes a lack of urgency.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said:

“If the chancellor is serious about reaching 300,000 housing units per year, supporting apprenticeships and diversifying educational achievement through T-levels, then he will need SME housebuilders and constructors. SMEs not only train and retain two thirds of construction apprentices but they are our predominant private sector and rural employer. Government must deliver bolder planning reform, fairer procurement and a better understanding of the entire development process if it has any hope of making a success of today’s announcements.”