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400,000 homes at risk from skills shortage, warns FMB

The construction skills shortage could affect the Chancellor’s vision for 400,000 new affordable homes, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) claimed in its response to the Spending Review.

Chief executive Brian Berry said George Osborne was right to “choose housing” by prioritising investment in new affordable homes.

The government has confirmed plans to build 200,000 starter homes with 20% discounts for the under-40s, 135,000 shared-ownership homes, 10,000 rent-to-buy homes and 8,000 specialist properties for the elderly and disabled.

“This amounts to a £7bn public investment in new homes – a concerted effort to give aspirational homeowners a helping hand onto the housing ladder,” Mr Berry said.

However, he argued the industry was already seeing housing developments starting to stall because the cost of hiring skilled tradespeople was threatening to make some sites too expensive.

Unless there is a massive uplift in apprenticeship training in the industry, Mr Berry said there would not be enough hands to deliver more housing on this scale.

FMB believed that SME developers will have an important role to play in delivering the smaller-scale sites across the country.

“We need more small house builders to enter the market, and also for SME house builders to crank up their delivery of new homes in order to build the Chancellor’s 400,000 new affordable homes,” Mr Berry said.

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