Steve Midgley is Managing Director of Fairgrove Homes.
Over the last few weeks, I have seen a fair bit of criticism of the new Help to Buy schemes. But to kickstart construction, it is vital that we have action - even if it is only temporary - to tackle the drought in mortgage finance.
As a small family-run builder in the Midlands, when the economic crash hit in 2008, we were badly affected. Today, five years later, we are starting to see signs of a real recovery. But the legacy of the financial crisis – particularly a lack of mortgages - is stifling the housing market and house-building.
Housing construction is one of the best ways to stimulate the economy. Every £1 spent on construction creates around £3 of activity; hundreds of thousands of people are employed in house-building and related industries; there are hardly any imports in housing construction so domestic economic growth is stimulated. And of course we all know that we need more homes.
There are three main factors which affect levels of house building:
Over the long-term, the main constraint has been the planning system and the lack of permissioned and viable land for new homes. In the last couple of decades, a huge burden of regulation has stifled construction and harmed companies like mine. But most importantly, the short-term constraint we face now is the lack of mortgage finance available.
While the current Government has made changes to the planning system - and the industry is hopeful that they will bring positive results - time will tell the full impact they have. Action tackling regulation has been slow, and red tape remains a serious handicap to my business growing and building more houses.