Ben Chu: Builders are part of the problem


Are housebuilders a hindrance rather than a help in solving Britain’s chronic housing shortage?

The charge against them is that they acquire land and sit on it, instead of building new homes and increasing the supply.

This “land banking” supports prices, and also the developers’ profits. The crowing of Bovis yesterday, which credited George Osborne’s housing market subsidies with helping to boost its profits, will do nothing to undermine this charge against the industry.

If ministers were serious about stamping out such hoarding they would implement a land-value tax. They would also find other ways to boost supply, such as guaranteeing the bonds of housing associations for new construction projects.