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01 May
Brick Development Association – Pick and Mix in Election promises on housebuilding

Friday May 1, 2015

We know we are not building enough houses – and, thank goodness, all the main political parties realise that too.  How to address the issue?  We’d take bits from all the manifestos – so here is our collection:

Labour’s plan to build 200,000 new homes does seem ambitious, but achievable, target for new houses in one year.  Sorry, Lib Dems, 300,000 feels unrealistic right now (bear in mind we only built 120,000 in 2014 and the entire system is creaking at the seams), and Conservatives, why are we reserving 200,000 new homes for the under 40s?

Greens, we like the sheer audacity of the pledge to build 500,000 homes for social rent by 2020 but we’re a bit sceptical about how that would be funded.  Or planned, or actually achieved.

Lib Dems score a hit with the 10 new Garden Cities – planned communities seem like the best way forward and we also quite like Labour’s “use it or lose it” power for local authorities to stop large organisations sitting on land banks for too long and controlling the market for new homes.

Conservatives address the land issue with their £1bn brownfield land regeneration fund.  We’re not entirely convinced by the 400,000 figure for homes that could be built on that land but it’s a great starting point.  UKIP likes previously developed land too: their pledge is one million homes on previously developed land by 2025, although it does rather beg the question of why brownfield land is not already being used for housing if it’s in places where people might actually want to live.

Interesting to see SNP supporting the Help to Buy scheme and reassuring to see that none of the major parties are planning to reverse that policy.

There is a real consensus that we need more houses – the challenge is to maintain the drive to build them.  What our economy urgently needs is consistent demand.  Manufacturers need it in order to commit to the investment needed to increase the supply of building products and employers need it to commit to the long-term process of training a new generation of skilled tradespeople.

We are already seeing positive steps taken byUKbrick manufactures to increase their productivity.  The latest calculations by our members estimate that a further increase of 200 million bricks will be added to last years’ total, meaning 2 billion bricks manufactured in 2015.

There has already been a significant increase in activity by manufacturers in 2015 as brick plants are unmothballed across the country.  TheUK’s largest brick manufacturer recently announced it will be developing the most modern brick factory.  This venture is likely to produce a further 100 million bricks per annum.

Whatever government we have after May 7th – please, help us to keep building

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