FMB says new Housing Minister must build on positive legacy

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Gavin Barwell, the new Housing and Planning Minister must build upon the legacy left behind by his predecessor…

Last week saw a shift around of ministers, with Theresa May appointing her cabinet as she became the UK’s second female prime minister. This change saw Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis replaced by Gavin Barwell.

Barwell, who was previously Comptroller of the Household and Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, has also been MP for Croydon Central since 2010.

Undoubtedly, Barwell has a difficult task ahead of him. The housing crisis remains a significant challenge, with the government pushing to deliver one million homes by 2020. However, targets have not been met so far and the supply of new property remains under the necessary amount needed to keep up with demand.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB), which represents the construction sector, called for Barwell to continue to build upon the positive legacy Brandon Lewis has developed during his time in office.

Chief executive Brian Berry said: “The Government has rightly identified housing as one of the greatest challenges facing this country and having reaffirmed its commitment to building one million new homes over the course of this parliament.

“It’s encouraging that Gavin Barwell has previous experience in the Department for Communities and Local Government as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Greg Clark, who has been a great champion of local house builders.

“Barwell’s predecessor Brandon Lewis similarly understood the significance of reviving the SME house building sector if the Government is to achieve its housing targets, both by increasing volume and speeding up build out rates.

“It’s of vital importance that Barwell continues with the positive legacy Lewis left behind, which saw house building completion figures rise and a range of initiatives introduced aimed at empowering smaller developers.

“SMEs are nevertheless still at a serious disadvantage in this country with far too many struggling to access the finance they need to build and hampered by a planning system that all too often places the same requirements on small developments as it does for larger ones.

“More needs to be done to overcome these constraints. With a new Prime Minister in place, now is perhaps the time to start thinking about more radical solutions to the housing crisis, including enabling local authorities to fund house building by lifting borrowing caps.

“Local house builders are ready to play a much larger role in getting Britain building again, and we look forward to working with the new Housing Minister in identifying how SMEs can help him achieve this.”

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