First-time buyers, families and the construction industry were given a welcome boost with the announcement of a £700 million investment to help create nearly 10,000 new homes in the West Midlands.
Ian Austin MP, Minister for the West Midlands, said the investment by the national housing and regeneration body, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), would kickstart developments to build new affordable homes and save jobs in the construction industry.
He said: “The construction industry has been hit really hard by the downturn and we have got families and first-time buyers desperate to get a home of their own.
“The Housing Action Plan I have worked on with the HCA shows that the Government is providing real help now with a £700 million boost to create new homes, accelerate regeneration projects and, most importantly, improve the lives of local people.”
Of the money announced for the next two years, more than £300 million will be spent on providing 7,500 new affordable homes – 900 more than the previous two years.
More than £80 million will be spent to unblock regeneration projects stalled in the current climate, providing more than 2,300 new homes.
A further part of the West Midland investment, which is the first of the HCA’s regional investments to be announced, will see around £100 million go towards refurbishing current properties and supporting new homes in North Staffordshire, Birmingham and Sandwell and £70 million will help local authorities accelerate housing growth plans.
Paul Spooner, regional director of HCA West Midlands said: “Our immediate priority is to use our resources flexibly to do everything we can to maintain momentum in the housing market during these challenging times.
“We are doing this by brokering partnerships between developers and housing associations to bring forward more affordable homes, supporting up-front investment in infrastructure, providing increased rates of grants to enable the construction of more affordable homes and investing in major regeneration projects.”
He said the investment would support employment in the local construction industry as the HCA was working with construction firms to increase the number of apprenticeships in the industry among people recruited locally.
A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation welcomed the announcement of more public money for the housing market.
He said: “In the current climate obviously the private housing market is being constrained by lack of mortgage availability and we need to be looking at how we can use public money to deliver much-needed housing.
“We have got to find ways to keep builders building otherwise the industry is losing capacity and when we do come out of this downturn it will take even longer to provide the housing we need.”