FMB criticises Builders Finance Fund

Published:  10 September, 2014

The government’s ‘Builders Finance Fund’ is not helping the small housebuilders it was designed to assist, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, the FMB’s chief executive, said: “The Builders Finance Fund was originally trailed in the March Budget as ‘help for smaller builders’, but the 15 unit minimum threshold that has been applied has effectively excluded large numbers of small and micro firms that do not build to this scale.

“However, analysis of the shortlisted schemes reveals that over half of the schemes consist of more than 50 units which is a far cry from the small sites that the scheme was set up to help. A handful of firms, including some very large companies, are behind a third of the schemes shortlisted.”

A recent survey of FMB members revealed that only 8% of respondents built sites of more than 15 units and none had applied for finance under the scheme, which Mr Berry described as “telling”.

“Ministers have said that more developers will be invited to bid for funding under the scheme in the coming months and if this is the case, the government should urgently review the 15 unit threshold which has so far been imposed, and which has effectively excluded a large proportion of the industry from benefiting from this policy,” he continued. “A five unit threshold would be much more helpful if the government is serious about helping small and micro house builders deliver more new homes.”

Mr Berry concluded: “While it is encouraging that the government understands the role SME housebuilders must play to address the housing need, it needs to ensure its policies match its intentions.”

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