UK house builders set plans for expansion after government boost

Companies react to the extension of the government's scheme to drive buyer demand

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 7:34am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 March, 2014, 7:34am

Builders Barratt Developments and Crest Nicholson have set out plans to expand their businesses after the British government extended a housing scheme that has driven buyer demand.

Finance minister George Osborne confirmed in his budget that the government would extend the equity loan portion of the Help to Buy scheme for four years longer than planned to 2020, a move he said would deliver 120,000 homes.

In response, Barratt Developments, Britain's largest house builder by volume, said it planned to hire 3,000 more workers as it anticipated increasing the number of sites it was working on to 450, from 380.

Smaller builder Crest Nicolson said it would be setting up a third business focused in the Home Counties region around London, which could add up to 600 homes a year to its completion rates once it was fully operational.

"As the land we are buying today is for the homes we will be building in 2016 and beyond, the industry needed a longer term framework for Help to Buy," Barratt's chief executive Mark Clare said.

Crest's chief executive, Stephen Stone, said the extension would help to underpin demand for new homes for the next six years "and that gives us the confidence".

The Help to Buy scheme has benefited the house builders by accelerating Britain's housing recovery and shoring up demand to boost selling rates and profits. It has also allowed the likes of Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey to unveil plans to pay dividends to shareholders.

The extension also illustrates how the debate over Britain's housing shortage has crept right back to the top of the political agenda, with elections just over a year away.