Housing Minister pledges to work closely with lenders

Ryan Bembridge

November 18, 2016

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell has pledged to work closely with Britain’s mortgage lenders to ‘forge a way forward’ through the housing crisis.

Speaking at the Building Societies Association annual lunch yesterday, Barwell (pictured) told delegates that if housebuilding continues at the current rate by 2025 homes in the South East will increase in value by £1,000 per week.

Barwell met with society bosses and the chief executive of the BSA Robin Fieth after the speech.

Yesterday the BSA published a housing report promoting modern methods of construction with a particular focus on off-site construction.

Barwell said: “I have met lenders in person to understand their concerns and forge a way forward – that engagement will continue.

“Indeed once I finish I am meeting some of you to get one-to-one feedback.

“Building societies… [can help] by facilitating a more diverse housebuilding sector and modern methods of construction.”

The Housing Minister praised the “high quality” nature of off-site homes.

And with eight companies building half of the country’s homes, he branded their monopoly “unhealthy” and pledged to reverse the decline of smaller housebuilders after the recession.

Barwell spoke in emotive terms about Britain’s housing crisis, quoting government statistics saying the UK’s main cause of homelessness is now the end of an assured hold tenancy rather than a relationship breakdown.

He said: “In just 20 years we’ve seem of a halving of the proportion of people that acquire homeownership by the age of 30.

“And if we don’t do something radical and drastic that trend is only going to continue and we are going to end up being a society where only those who are fortunate enough to inherit wealth or land or are incredibly highly paid will be able to own their property.

“Just to set the scale of the challenge in context: If we keep building at the current rate then my officials tell me that by 2025 the house of the average owner-occupier somewhere in the South East of England will be increasing in value by £1,000 a week.

“It would mean that the homes of ordinary working people in Kent, or Hampshire or Sussex would be earning more people than them; the people who live in them.

“And that’s not just crazy economics; it represents a profound social failure. A growing gap in geographical inequality in this country and a dangerous divide between the housing haves and have-nots.

“There is a moral imperative to ensure that the housing market in this country works for everyone and it’s not something I’m going to be able to do on my own, it’s going to require work from right across the housing industry to make it happen.”

Barwell has been Housing Minister for just four months after replacing Brandon Lewis in July 2016.

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