Last edited 16 Nov 2015

Housing and Finance Institute to help revitalise SME housebuilders

The Housing & Finance Institute (HFI) has revealed its intention to help restore and revitalise SME housebuilders hit hard by the recession.

Established in June 2015 and backed by the Treasury, HFI were charged with accelerating housing supply, and in November 2015 announced plans to “sit in the middle” of the supply chain, attempting to bring financiers, landowners and public authorities together as a means of meeting the market demand.

Before the economic downturn, SME housebuilders delivered nearly 60% of the UK’s new homes. Since then this proportion has fallen to 20%.

HFI chief executive Natalie Elphicke said: “Business is starting to come back but the market has changed. Every single player that went into the credit crunch has come out with different aims and ambitions for their business.

"There is a smaller supply chain of housebuilders. It is more complex and all of the market players are changing their place in the housing supply chain. We want to sit in the middle of this new supply chain to help people find partners to complement their emerging role.”

Local Partnerships, a joint venture between the Treasury and the Local Government Association, part-funds the HFI and advises public sector bodies on complex deals. Attracting the interest of investors and developers into specific areas is something councils will be coached on as part of HFI’s new approach.

Ms Elphicke said: “Councils must learn how to sell their areas”, if supply is to be accelerated. “Only a quarter of housebuilders see growth coming from outside their current area of operations. Looking at just smaller builders, over half see their growth in the areas where they are already building.”

Already, the Stoke-on-Trent Council has turned to the HFI for advice regarding the 100,000 new homes that Stoke cabinet member for regeneration Jack Brereton has said are needed for the region. Seeking help from HFI, Brereton said, “...would be a good way to look at what we are doing and how the council does things effectively. It was very useful to have an outside view – they did an evaluation of how we are doing and how we can improve for the future.”