Lack of land and lending blocking new homes, claims FMB

A lack of available small sites and finance are the main barriers preventing SME housebuilders from increasing their delivery of new homes, according to new research.

The results come from the Federation of Master Builders’ (FMB) housebuilders’ survey 2017.

The survey of SME housebuilders found that:

  • 54% said accessing finance was a major barrier to their ability to build more homes (up from 50% in 2016)
  • a lack of available and viable land was the most commonly cited barrier (62%) to increasing output
  • 54% believed the number of opportunities for small-site development were decreasing
  • 42% said a shortage of skilled workers was a major barrier to building more new homes, this rose to 49% when asked to look ahead over the next three years
  • one in three small housebuilders that employ EU workers believed the end of free movement would be a major constraint
  • 49% of SME builders viewed the planning system as a major constraint.

“Almost a decade after the financial crisis, access to finance for small housebuilders is getting worse instead of better,” said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB.

“Small housebuilders express generally positive views of some recent government initiatives in this area, such as the Home Building Fund, but we clearly need to double down on these efforts to make sure that SMEs have access to the finance they need to build Britain out of its housing crisis.”

Brain added: “More worryingly still, over half say that the number of available small sites is, if anything, decreasing.

“The [housing] white paper quite rightly emphasises the need to diversify the housebuilding sector, so it is less reliant on a small number of large housebuilders.

“In order to do this, we need the government to make good on its proposals to improve the availability of small sites and speed-up the planning process for small sites.”

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