A senior politician has called on the government to borrow £50bn and launch a major house building program — the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 1960s.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid wants Chancellor Philip Hammond to borrow the money in a bid to solve the UK’s housing crisis — and the nation’s tradespeople could be major beneficiaries if the scheme goes ahead.
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Government ‘should help build 300,000 houses a year’
Javid has set the bold target of building 300,000 houses a year, which is a 50 per cent increase on the 200,000 houses a year promised by the Conservatives two years ago.
The ambitious plans are similar in scale to Harold Macmillan’s in the 1960s.
Since then, housebuilding has dropped dramatically. 168,000 homes were completed in 2015/16, highlighting the significant increase that Javid is proposing.
To help speed up the level of housebuilding, Javid is suggesting that government-owned land should be used to stop big building firms from delaying until prices go up.
Time to ‘take advantage of record low interest rates’?
And with Chancellor Hammond’s Autumn Budget fast approaching, the announcement is certainly timely.
Javid wants the government to “take advantage of record low interest rates” and raise the projected £50bn needed to fund the project.
Despite potentially frustrating some colleagues at the timing of his comments, Javid did receive the backing of several high profile Tories on Twitter.
Are Labour’s plans more realistic?
But not everyone’s so keen on the proposals, with some believing it to be unrealistic.
Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey warned of setting targets that can’t be met, adding: “Ministers should back Labour’s plan to build 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year, including the biggest council house building programme in more than 30 years.”
Who could benefit from increased house building?
One way or another, it’s positive news for tradespeople, as ministers across the board continue to recognise the very real need for more homes.
From bricklayers to scaffolders, a surge in house building could mean more work, and at a time when the skills shortage continues to loom large, could even lead to bumper rates.
Indeed, research has recently found that the skills shortage has led to some trades earning six times the national average wage, with tradespeople across the board in hot demand.