British businesses say they are losing out thanks to our failure to build enough new homes

Mark Sands
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Firms are losing out on staff thanks to fewer homes and long commutes, the CBI said (Source: Getty)

The failure to build homes is hurting the ability of British businesses to recruit and retain staff, according to the CBI, who are calling for a dramatic shift in housebuilding policy

Last summer, the government unveiled a prominent goal of building 1m new homes by 2020, but the CBI today warned the government is at risk of falling short of its lofty ambition.

The business group warned a lack of supply of affordable housing is hitting firms, while staff enduring long commutes are also impacting on productivity, it said.

Deputy director-general Josh Hardie said: “It’s a problem the impacts of which are seen every day, from high prices barring people moving home and deterring them from applying or staying in a job, to the dent it puts in productivity.

“A quiet revolution in the way business and the Government think about, provide and deliver housing is necessary if we are to reach the welcome target of one million new homes by 2020.”

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The CBI has welcomed efforts including the recently announced Home Building Fund, but demanded an end to what it called a “one size fits all” approach, calling for greater flexibility for housing associations and exploration of what kinds of new homes could be built on brownfield sites within the green belt.

"A flexible approach, underpinned by government working with business, will enable us to deliver the homes we sorely need, and which will drive productivity, boost growth and increase prosperity in every corner of the country."

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It comes as P2P lender Saving Stream warns that short-term loans to back construction are at lower levels than during the recession.

Figures from the first show that £67.4bn in short-term loans were issued to developers last year, compared to £68.2bn in 2010/11.

The loans are used by small and medium-sized developers to bridge planning and construction, but the P2P specialist warned that banks are taking up to three months to approve funding.

Saving Stream director Liam Brooke said: “The housing crisis has meant that investors need to secure opportunities for potential projects in a very tight timeframe, as competition can often be intense.

“There has been an influx of foreign cash buyers looking to invest in the UK property market, and for developers the speed of their investment can often be the make or break.”

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