Reduce barriers to help SMEs, says HBF

The government should seize the opportunity of Brexit to reform EU regulation to reduce the risk and complexity associated with building new homes and so help smaller builders build more.

This is one of a series of recommendations revealed in a report released by the Home Builders Federation which highlights the challenges faced by small to medium sized (SME) housebuilders in looking to increase housing output.

The report – Reversing the decline of small housebuilders – sets out a range of proposals to address the finance, planning and red tape barriers preventing smaller firms from playing a bigger part in tackling the housing crisis. Over the past 25 years the number of SME builders has reduced by around 80%, but HBF says that just getting back to the number operating in 2007 could produce an additional 25,000 homes a year.

The report, which is based on in-depth interviews and discussions with HBF’s smaller members. highlights access to finance and the increasingly complex planning and regulatory systems as the biggest factors inhibiting the entrepreneurialism of smaller companies.

In addition to reforming EU regulation the report suggests a number of other steps government could take to help including:

■ create a new Help to Build scheme to help extend sustainable lending to smaller companies
■ tackle specific planning problems that disproportionately aff ect the business environment for SMEs, including the lack of smaller sites and the impact of pre-commencement conditions
■ lift barriers for builders to access tax incentives and other support enjoyed by SMEs in other sectors
■ provide technical and planning advice services for fledgling businesses

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, said: “If government wants to see continued increases in supply it is imperative it enables SME builders to play their part. Removing the barriers for SME builders could result in tens of thousands of desperately needed additional homes being built and boost economies up and down the country.”

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