Last week, 17 of Britain’s biggest housebuilders come together to warn that leaving the EU will make it harder and more expensive to build homes, which would mean first-time buyers would find it more difficult to get onto the property ladder.
In an open letter, they argue that “a vote to leave will create considerable uncertainty for Britain”, meaning that “investment will suffer as confidence in the economy waves”, making it harder for housebuilders to raise the funds to undertake new development.
They also argue that the supply chain, which employs “millions of people across the UK”, would be damaged, with a vote to leave disrupting the production and import of materials like bricks. They conclude that leaving the EU would be a “risk” and therefore they support Britain remaining in the EU.
The 17 firms – Metropolitan, Notting Hill Housing, Canary Wharf Group, The Larkfleet Group, A2Dominion Group, Family Mosaic, Peabody, Genesis Housing Association, The Berkeley Group, Barratt Developments, Norfolk Homes, Crest Nicholson, Hopkins Homes, L&Q, Pocket Living, Cast, and Wates Group – employ over 34,000 people.
Mark Vlessing, Founder and CEO of Pocket (starter-homes specialists) commented “Remaining in the EU is critical for first time buyers. The uncertainty caused by Brexit will destabilise the supply of mortgages, our construction workforce will be severely depleted causing further construction cost escalation and developers will respond by committing to fewer housing starts. Nobody wants this, least of all our first time buyers who today are actively choosing the UK to build their futures in.”
Commenting, Stephen Stone, CEO of Crest Nicholson, said “Government support has brought much needed stability to the housing market. The industry has responded by growing volumes and creating many highly-skilled jobs, apprenticeships and new career opportunities for young people. Homebuyers have confidence of future employment and easy access to mortgages, which helps them come to the decision to buy a new home. This is the housing environment today and anything which undermines it - including Brexit - would not be welcomed and could force us to revisit our investment decisions.”
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, added “The job of politicians is to do everything we can to help people get on in life – to buy that first home, providing stability and a place to raise a family.
“It’s clear that following the fantasy economics of the Leave campaign would put this universal dream at risk. Families are better off in Europe, and they can’t afford a vote to leave.”
Full text of the letter, and signatories:
“We are developers and housebuilders working throughout the country to build more, much needed, housing to ensure millions of people can fulfil their dream of buying their own home.
“What any developer requires is confidence and continued support from their financial investors - and those investors need certainty over wider market conditions. There is now a clear consensus that a vote to leave will create considerable uncertainty for Britain. We know what this will mean: investment will suffer as confidence in the economy wavers. That is the last thing Britain’s developers and house-builders need.
“Leaving the EU would also have an impact on the UK’s housing supply chain companies, which employ millions of people across the UK. This could disrupt the production and import of the supplies needed for building such as bricks and blocks. This will further delay and add costs on Britain’s house builders.
“Britain’s strong and open economy is the vital foundation we need to build Britain’s homes. But this is precisely what leaving the European Union puts at risk.
“So, we support the UK staying within a reformed EU.”
Brian Johnson, CEO, Metropolitan
Kate Davies, chief executive, Notting Hill Housing
Sir George Iacobescu - CEO – Canary Wharf Group
Karl Hick - CEO – The Larkfleet Group
Darrell Mercer - CEO - A2Dominion Group
Brendan Sarsfield - CEO - Family Mosaic
Stephen Howlett - CEO – Peabody
Neil Hadden – CEO - Genesis Housing Association
Tony Pidgley - Chairman – The Berkeley Group
David Thomas - CEO - Barratt Developments
Philip Makepeace – Managing Director - Norfolk Homes
Stephen Stone - CEO - Crest Nicholson
James Hopkins – Executive Chairman - Hopkins Homes
David Montague - CEO - L&Q
Mark Vlessing – Founder and CEO – Pocket Living
Mark Farmer – Founding Director and CEO - Cast
James Wates – Chairman – Wates Group