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Countrywide slams Shapps

Countrywide, the UK’s largest estate agent and mortgage broker, has accused housing minister Grant Shapps of being more interested in headlines than housing.

Sarah Davidson, 11 May, 2012

Grenville Turner, chief executive of Countrywide, said yesterday that the government had failed to fully engage with the housing industry.

It had also publicly backed schemes designed to boost the sector - before checking they would work in practice.

Turner said: "We wrote to Grant Shapps and said we sell one in ten houses in the UK, we understand you're looking at the housing market, would you like to talk to us about our experience?

"The answer came back, no, not really. That's the issue that we face – government not really wanting to know what the facts are.

"They want to know what their own initiatives are and try and push them forward."

Turner said despite a dialogue with the Department for Communities and Local Government "there is this sense of grabbing headlines then trying to retrofit policy and procedure and pricing and then frankly move onto the next headline".

He called on Shapps to sit down with the housing industry to develop innovations likely to make a practical difference.

A DCLG spokesman said Shapps had met "many organisations and held a number of summits with representatives" from the housing sector and added: "Senior officials from the department have also recently met with Countrywide and we value their input."

In March the government launched its NewBuy scheme designed to help people with a 5% deposit buy a new property.

To date just four lenders offer NewBuy mortgages and the rates have been criticised as expensive.

The government said it hoped to help 100,000 people to buy.

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