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Housing Crisis? What Housing Crisis?

February 2015


The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has stated that the Government and property industry need to collaborate to build at least 200,000 homes a year by 2020 in order to tackle the “current housing crisis”.

According to the FMB, “in England, we are only building around half the number of new homes required to meet the demand for housing. This is a realistic target and one that can be achieved if we remove barriers to small local builders”.

The FMB felt that there were some key issues which needed to be addressed in the short to medium term, including improved access to finance for small firms and local authority planning departments having the resources they need to do their jobs properly. There are also concerns over a skills shortage, which revert back to the economic downturn in 2007. 42% of property firms now struggle to recruit bricklayers and joiners and that these tradespeople are hard to come by.

However there appears to be a gross oversight – there remains a staggering 914,000 empty homes across the UK! Current legislation means that house builders and developers are incentivised to build new homes on greenfield sites rather than utilising existing properties (ie brownfield sites).

There is a clear argument that if there was an incentive for those in the property trade to reclaim these existing properties and convert to residential homes, this could greatly improve the current perceived “crisis” with no loss of green open space. There are of course the significant environmental and economic advantages to this, plus job creation (using different skill sets which are apparently lacking in the market at present) and rejuvenation of run down areas of the country. A win-win scenario you might say!


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