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UK govt announces review to cut red tape for home builders

The government has announced a Cutting Red Tape review which aims to uncover the issues that have the biggest effect on house builders and also wants to gather the views of smaller firms to understand the unique pressures they face.

Ministers said that the wide ranging review will capture the experiences of all those involved in building homes, including developers, planners and trade associations.

‘This review will give house builders and smaller construction businesses a powerful voice as part of our £10 billion deregulation drive. Where rules are too complicated, ineffective or poorly enforced, I want to hear about it and the government will take action. Together we can cut red tape and get Britain building,’ said Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

He pointed out that previously the Housing and Construction Red Tape Challenge delivered significant reforms and led to a review of local housing standards by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said he is determined to remove barriers faced by house builders to ensure more homes can be built to help reach the recently announced new targets for home building.

‘We want to hear the views of firms big and small so we can remove unnecessary red tape and help house builders do what they do best, building the homes we need,’ he added.

He explained that the key starting points for the review are based on the priorities raised by the Task Force which include roads and infrastructure rules for new housing developments and environmental requirements, particularly European Union rules such as the Habitats Directive and wider EU environmental permit requirements.

It will also look at rules that affect utilities such as electricity, gas and water as well as broadband infrastructure, and the government is also keen to look at the changes made to the Construction, Design and Management Regulations, as well as any examples of EU rules that are being implemented too strictly.

John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that the government is right to listen to the needs of smaller businesses. ‘In the 1980s, smaller house builders delivered around two thirds of our new homes. Today, it is less than a third. If the government can encourage small firms back into house building, that would be a major step towards meeting this country’s housing needs,’ he explained.

‘The new Cutting Red Tape review will look at the way the law is enforced, as well as whether the rules themselves are proportionate and fit for purpose. The responses from house builders will lead to government taking concrete steps to remove burdens on business,’ he added.

The announcement was also welcomed by Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation. ‘As the industry looks to drive further increases in housing supply we welcome moves to reduce unnecessary regulation and the associated costs,’ he commented.

‘Aside from the planning system there are significant other regulatory processes and charges levied on the industry that can adversely affect viability, but also, critically, delay the ability of home builders to get on site and start building. Reducing red tape will bring more sites into play more quickly and so help the industry deliver more desperately needed homes in the coming years,’ he added.

Meanwhile, the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Hollick, is conducting an inquiry into The Economics of the United Kingdom Housing Market.

This inquiry will consider the supply and affordability of housing for private buyers, for the private rental sector and for the social housing market across the UK as well as the effectiveness of Government policies on the demand for and supply of reasonably priced housing across the UK.

The Committee has invited interested individuals and organisations to submit evidence to the inquiry.