Housing boom would create 200k new jobs

Tim Wallace
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AS the government’s proposed planning rules are debated by environmentalists and concerned “nimbys”, a report out today claims a housing boom could create 201,000 jobs.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) estimates that policies which free up the housing market supply to match the level of demand would create a housing explosion.

In 2010, 95,000 new houses were built. With fewer restrictions, annual supply could rise to 300,000 by 2015 according to the think-tank, which argues that politicians and campaigners have overlooked the economic impact of a housing boom.

“With fiscal and monetary policy measures exhausted, the government should consider how scaling back regulation can help bolster growth,” says the CEBR’s Shehan Mohamed. “One such measure is an easing of planning laws which would help create thousands of new jobs in construction.”

The think-tank believes this increased supply would drive down rents by around 11 per cent by 2015 and boost under-35s’ living standards by around four per cent.

The study points to the 1930s’ housing boom as a particularly beneficial one, saying rapid building “partly explains why the UK fared relatively well compared with other developed nations during the Great Depression”, with over one million workers employed in the construction industry.

Reforms currently proposed by the government aims to slash the quantity of regulations around planning, and suggests that “local planning authorities should plan positively for new development and approve all individual proposals wherever possible.”

It focuses on “the principle of sustainable development”, so that local communities are encouraged to produce their own plans.

Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury Angela Eagle recognises the boost to employment a housing boom would create, but suggests a different method of achieving it. “The government should use the money raised from a tax on bank bonuses to build thousands of affordable homes, boost our construction industry and get people back to work,” she said.