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Budget: More needed to boost housebuilding, key figures warn

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Industry bodies have warned the government that more is needed to boost housebuilding despite a number of announcements in yesterday’s Budget

Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged a further £15 billion over the next five years for measures to tackle the housing crisis, bringing total support this parliament to £44 billion.

Key announcements included scrapping stamp duty for first-time buyers on the first £300,000 of their purchase price, and creating five new garden towns.

But key bodies said that although these moves were welcomed, they fell short of what was needed to unlock a major change in housebuilding in the immediate future.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) parliamentary affairs manager Lewis Johnston said: ‘While the chancellor is right to say there is no single magic bullet to increase housing supply, it requires a lot more than the proposals he has put forward, which amount to a series of marginal and delayed nudges at a time when housing supply needs an almighty immediate shove.’

He added: ‘Scrapping stamp duty for first-time buyers may stimulate activity at a time when the market is subdued but this does not tackle the underlying problem and is something of a distraction from the need to increase supply.’

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire welcomed the housing measures in the Budget, but added: ‘We will need to see a greater focus across government to meet the scale of the challenge.’

He added: ‘It will be years before many of these initiatives lead to new homes being built. We urge the chancellor to reconsider some of the restrictions – particularly the delay in lifting affordable housing borrowing caps for councils until 2019-20.’

Home Builders Federation executive chairman Stewart Baseley called the chancellor’s target of building 300,000 homes each year by 2022 ‘ambitious’.

He said: ‘The measures announced today will assist by stimulating demand and helping broaden the supply base of new homes,’ he said. ’But much more needs to be done, in particular with regards to the planning system, if the target is to be met.

‘Government needs to continue to help big builders while introducing policies that allow SME builders and specialist providers alongside the affordable housing sector so they can play their part in building the homes the country needs.’

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