Government vows to increase housebuilding

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Indy Politics

The Government today promised to help people trying to get on the property ladder by boosting the number of new homes being built.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said "powerful incentives" would be introduced to replace the "meaningless targets" put in place by the previous government to increase housebuilding rates.

He said instead of being told what to build and where, local residents would be able to develop their own vision for their community, with Local Housing Trusts set up to oversee the building of new homes.

He added that incentives would also create direct benefits for local communities, bringing jobs and investment, as well as more homes, to their area.

Mr Shapps said the coalition Government had also agreed to promote shared ownership schemes and help social housing tenants to buy or part-buy their homes.

He said: "I am simply saying to those who aspire to own their own home: this Government will support you, you will not be ignored. The age of aspiration is back."

At an event hosted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, he said there were an estimated 1.4 million households who aspired to owning a property but were unable to do so because of house prices and mortgage availability.

He added that the average age of a first-time buyer who did not receive help from their family was now 37.

Mr Shapps called on mortgage lenders to support creditworthy borrowers.

He said: "There is a risk that the market may not respond to changing conditions quickly enough, leaving creditworthy borrowers still out in the cold."

But he added that responsible lending and responsible borrowing were "two sides of the same coin", and consumers would also have to show that they could sustain home ownership.

Mr Shapps also called on groups involved in the housing market, including builders, surveyors, lenders and estate agents, to work together to ensure that the conditions which created housing bubbles in the past were never repeated.

He said: "Falling prices are bad for homeowners and builders alike, whilst soaring prices freeze out first-time buyers.

"So, we need to build more homes and entrench sensible lending practices so that, in the long run, houses will become more affordable."