Builders struggle to access government fund
Less than half of a special government fund set up to help SME housebuilders was distributed to applicants in a period of more than two years.
Smaller housebuilders have reported that they have been unable to access money from funds launched by the government, prompting Housebuilder to conduct a Freedom of Information request to find out the details of money released through the Builders Finance Fund.
This fund was announced in March 2014 and ran until it was absorbed into the new Home Building Fund in October. The BFF was flagged up as a £525 million fund to bring forward 15,000 units – but in its 30 months of operation just £238.2 million was awarded in 105 projects to provide 7,090 homes.
On average, BFF applications took six months to be approved. In London, on average, approval took 490 days – more than 16 months.
Small housebuilders say they are not surprised at the findings, claiming that the process is time consuming and complicated.
The HCA says it expects the situation to improve with the new Home Building Fund: “Since the loans were allocated we’ve improved our IT systems and processes so that we can more efficiently move from application to investment approval stage however the projects [in the FoI] were more likely to experience longer periods between application submission and investment approval, in comparison to the Home Building Fund, as they were received by the Agency prior to the new system and process being launched. The new process removes unnecessary obstacles to advance eligible applications.”