Housing minister Kris Hopkins has called on the housebuilding industry to "go back to your boardrooms and ask how we can deliver more new homes".
Speaking at today's HBF Policy conference, Hopkins reminded the audience of the initiatives and policies introduced by the coalition, including the Help to Buy equity loan extension and the Builders Finance Fund. "We have removed a lot of the barriers to building more new homes. Tell us what else needs to be done. I want you to build more new homes – I am not going to put a figure on it, but I want more."
Asked by HBF chairman Stewart Baseley what one thing Hopkins would want the industry to do, he called on housebuilders to "build relationships with councillors at all levels. You do it with businesses, so do it with local authorities."
Hopkins said he welcomed the improvement in the housebuilding market and the recovery of the construction industry generally as it is about "jobs, wages and giving opportunities to young people - the last government ignored the vocational sector becoming obsessed with sending everyone to university." He said people training in the industry as carpenters and bricklayers should be told that "we treasure the work that you do".
"You (the industry) need a pipeline of people. Don't sit back – break down the door of your local college and demand they produce the skills to make your business successful," said the minister.
Asked about building on greenbelt and the government's attitude to this approaching the election, Hopkins said that the facts about greenbelt needed to be clearer. "Only 0.2% of greenbelt has been built on since 1997, and since then greenbelt has grown by 84,000 hectares."