Communities and Children Secretary Carl Sargeant today launched a pact with the Home Builders Federation and the Federation of Master Builders to help boost the supply of market housing in Wales.

The Cabinet Secretary sealed the agreement on a visit to Edenstone Homes, a housing developer building homes across South Wales and South West England, in Magor, along with representatives of both organisations.

The aim of the pact is to set out a number of commitments for all parties that would help deliver against housing targets. It builds on the House Builders’ Engagement Programme which was established by the Welsh Government and the Home Builders Federation in 2014. The Federation of Master Builders has been invited to join the partnership to represent those building on a smaller scale.

Launching the pact, Carl Sargeant said “While recent figures published show that the numbers of new homes started and completed in Wales last year were at their second highest level since the start of the recession in 2007-8, there is still an acute need for more homes across Wales. As the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for Housing, I have made clear, my commitment to increasing housing supply.

“This pact, developed in partnership with the Home Builders Federation, the Federation of Master Builders and their members, will help deliver on our commitment to increase housing supply. It signals a positive step forward, and reflects our strong relationship with the house builders, which is vitally important to ensure the successful delivery of market and affordable housing across Wales.

“I look forward to continue working them to ensure the people of Wales are provided with the homes they need.”

Stewart Basely, executive chairman of HBF said “The Pact provides a framework for housebuildersto work with the Welsh Government to develop policies that will allow desperately needed homes to be delivered. Together we need to create an environment that allows the industry to invest in the land, people and supply chains required to increase output to meet the acute demand for housing.”

Ifan Glyn, Director FMB Cymru said “Although in-roads have been made of late, a lot of work needs to be done if we are to build the numbers of homes required to meet demand. This pact brings together the main players that need to work closely if we are to achieve this objective.

“Federation of Master Builders members are all small local firms, once the main drivers of house building here in Wales. Over a number of decades they have increasingly become mere marginal players in the market which has hampered the capacity of the industry to deliver the homes we need. We hope this pact acts as a catalyst to reverse this trend. We look forward to working in a progressive, innovative, and positive way with ourpartners to make this happen.”

Plaid Cymru’s proposal to cut VAT on home renovations would spark a renaissance in the Welsh construction sector, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Cymru has said in response to the Party’s announcement.

Ifan Glyn, Director of FMB Cymru, said “We welcome the announcement that Plaid Cymru would press the UK Government to reduce the amount of VAT currently charged on domestic refurbishment work. The economic benefits of a VAT cut would be significant and timely, given the uncertainty facing the country as it starts the process of departing the EU. Research has demonstrated that cutting VAT on such work would provide an annual £50 million stimulus to the Welsh economy, revitalising a sector that has suffered decidedly mixed fortunes over the last decade. Far from depriving the treasury of revenue, experience from the Isle of Man suggests that the reduction could actually increase net revenues by boosting demand and cutting out the black market.”

“Moreover, it would provide a necessary shot in the arm in the effort to improve the energy efficiency of Welsh homes and help reduce our carbon emissions. Our housing stock is amongst the oldest in Europe, which is a major factor behind the generally poor levels of energy efficiency in our homes. A reduction in VAT would incentivise property owners into investing to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, thereby cutting energy bills. This could play a significant role in tackling fuel poverty, which remains a serious issue for Wales.”

“A tax stimulus could also yield further dividends in the form of empty homes being brought back into the market. There are currently 25,000 properties that are unoccupied in Wales and which could be fully inhabitable again if the incentive to renovate those homes existed. This would be equivalent to nearly two years’ worth of the supply of new homes that it is agreed Wales needs to tackle our housing crisis. Obviously, Plaid Cymru are in no position to win the General Election, but this policy highlights that a VAT reduction on home renovations is both feasible and highly desirable for the Welsh economy.”