Housebuilders back Conservative-DUP deal

June 26, 2017 / Isla MacFarlane
Housebuilders back Conservative-DUP deal

Two more weeks of political uncertainty came to an end today (26 June) as a deal was struck between the DUP and the Conservative parties. In exchange for an extra £1 billion in Northern Ireland’s budget, the DUP will prop up Theresa May’s minority government.

This is the result the housebuilding industry had been hoping for, according to a survey by 31% of respondents said that a Conservative-DUP coalition would be best for the industry.

However, an equal number called the Theresa May’s resignation – an unlikely event. There was a surprising appetite for another election later this year, with 23% in favour. A small number (8%) liked the idea of a minority Labour government with an equal percentage in favour of a progressive alliance formed of Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems.

The survey indicated that the industry hopes the alliance will lead to a soft Brexit, with 50% of respondents naming this as the best possible outcome of the new government. An equal number hoped for an increased cross-party approach to housebuilding.

The majority (44%) said that the new government should reaffirm pro-development policies such as those stated in the Housing White Paper as a priority.

A further 22% thought that guaranteeing access to European labour should be the top priority, with an equal number supporting new methods of delivery such as Build to Rent and offsite construction. Just 11% favoured pro-ownership initiatives such as the equity loan scheme.

An overwhelming majority (60%) thought that the Conservative manifesto pledged the best policies on housebuilding. The remaining 40% favoured Labour’s manifesto.

The most popular policies were those promising local authorities a more active role in housebuilding, with 57% of respondents naming this the election pledge they would most like to see honoured.

Labour’s idea to establish a department for housing; the Lib Dem’s pledge to establish a government-backed British infrastructure and development bank and the Conservative’s pledge to capture uplifts in land value to reinvest in housing and infrastructure all received 14% of votes.

The policies housebuilders would most like to see shelved included, perhaps not surprisingly, penalties for builders with planning permission who fail to build within three years (40%) and new fixed term council housing linked to a new Right to Buy (20%). Labour’s ‘New Deal’ which included discounted homes for first time buyers received 20% of votes.

Areas that housebuilders would like to see the new government put more focus on included a cross-party approach to housebuilding (43%); initiatives to support SME builders (29%); and more energy efficient homes (29%).

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said, “While we welcome the stability brought about by a functioning Government with parliamentary backing, we have strong reservations about the government’s decision to increase spending on Northern Ireland by £1 billion, especially since government spending per head in Northern Ireland is already greater than in England and Wales.

“Without seeking in any way to underestimate Northern Ireland, we would like to know where this extra £1 billion comes from and whether the construction industry and SME builders such as our members across England and Wales will receive a similarly generous endowment.”

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