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'Build more homes', Tories told

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One of Britain's most important business leaders has decried the lack of affordable housing in the South East at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool.

Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), demanded that the government solve the drastic shortage of new homes in the South East or see the economy suffer.

Speaking at a fringe meeting, Jones said wealth creation is being put at risk in the UK because of the lack of homes.

In a barely disguised attack on the current government, he said: 'I want a society where the lower-paid postal workers, nurses and teachers, especially south of Birmingham, can afford a house. They can't at the moment.

'There are people sorting the mail at Mount Pleasant in London who are living north of Rugby and driving into London for a 5am start because they can't afford to buy a house in the South East.

`This is not the way the fourth biggest economy on earth should be conducting itself. I want somebody to tell me if we're not going to build the 200,000 houses that the CBI believes should be built, what are we to do?'

Jones also called for a more efficient, speedy and transparent planning system. He warned that without more housing the market would kick in along with house price inflation.

'The law of supply and demand will work. We are going to have people not being able to live in a home of their own in Great Britain. That's not the sort of country I want.

'At the same time, we are not going to be a place where overseas investors are going to want to invest. We've always been the location of choice in Europe for the boardrooms of Detroit, Tokyo, Johannesburg and Frankfurt to create the wealth, pay tax and build schools and hospitals.

'I want that to continue. But if they can't get the labour because there's nowhere to live, they won't come.'

Jones added: 'One day we'll wake up and there won't be the wealth creators making the profits that pay the tax that builds the schools and hospitals.'

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