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BSA chief calls on gov’t for housing crisis strategy

BSA chief calls on gov’t for housing crisis strategy

The Building Societies Association has today (20 May) called on the new government to deliver a long-term strategy to counter the housing crisis.

Speaking at the BSA conference, chief executive Robin Fieth warned that solving the housing crisis in the UK will require action from multiple organisations and agencies.

Earlier this week, conveyancing firm MyHomemove carried out research last month among 159 estate agents, mortgage lenders, brokers and housebuilders, which found that 90 per cent believe the market is being held back, with 47 per cent citing a shortage of supply.

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Earlier in May, Halifax’s monthly house price index showed that a lack of supply was continuing to force house prices up, with the average property price now just shy of £200,000 having grown by 8.5 per cent in the 12 months to April.

Mr Fieth said: “The single most important thing that our new government can do for housing in the early days of this parliament is to set in motion a long-term plan based on national and regional demographics, infrastructure, employment and environmental concerns.”

He said that clearly houses are needed to be built, at least 200,000 a year in England alone. In total last year the amount built by the private sector was less than 94,000.

The new Conservative-only government has not set a housebuilding target but wants to build 200,000 starter homes for first-time buyers only.

Mr Fieth said: “The last time we built more than 200,000 new homes in a year was back in 1968.

“With our top five builders estimated to be able to satisfy only 30 per cent of this demand, it is essential that multiple other builders, plus housing associations, local authorities and individuals interested in self or custom-build are also able to build.”

He added that many building societies already have a good working relationship with local and regional builders and are the main suppliers of mortgage finance for self and custom build across the UK.

Mr Fieth also launched two new BSA housing programmes on lending on new types of construction and into older age.

Mr Fieth said: “This year the BSA is going further with a programme designed to increase the availability of mortgage finance for homes built using modern construction methods and materials.

“This applies particularly to off-site modular construction, a method currently niche that is substantially quicker than standard brick and tile construction. It is not yet well understood by the lending community.”

He continued that as a society we are getting older, and that financing old age is one of the critical social issues of this century, with part of this reflected in the fact that people who need to borrow close to or in retirement face some big challenges.

Older age borrowers have experienced difficulties since the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review in obtaining mortgages, as shown by a recent Financial Ombudsman Service ruling against HSBC.

ruth.gillbe@ft.com