Belfast Telegraph

Construction industry to build 200,000 new homes in 2017, Redrow boss forecasts

The boss of Redrow has forecast the construction industry will build 200,000 new homes next year, a milestone not achieved since 2008.

John Tutte, chief executive of the FTSE 250 housebuilder, said Government housing schemes and better land supply had laid the foundations for the number of new properties to rise in 2017.

But he warned that the target of building one million new homes by 2020 still remained a distant hope, while the skills shortage dogging the industry would be exacerbated by Britain's exit from the European Union.

"The announcement of a £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, together with the unlocking of a number of brownfield sites, are particularly helpful measures from Government," Mr Tutte said.

The supply of land for housing is improving, with many local authorities now taking a more proactive approach in their area by identifying the number of homes needed to meet current and future demand and implementing plans to progress delivery.

"While it remains doubtful that the combined housebuilding industry will build one million new homes by 2020, with all the impetus currently being achieved, 2017 looks set to be the first year since 2008 in which we might build 200,000 new homes."

The comments come after Redrow shrugged off the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote to post another record annual profit in September.

The Flintshire-based group revealed pre-tax profits jumped 23% to £250 million in the year to June 30 - hailed as a "knock-out" set of results in the City.

Housebuilding stocks have taken a battering on the London market since Britain voted to the leave the EU amid fears that Brexit uncertainty would slow down demand.

But despite the appetite for new homes remaining resilient, Mr Tutte said the housing market would continue to suffer from a dearth of skilled workers.

He said: "2017 will be the year in which Article 50 is triggered, setting in motion the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

"Of key concern to the housebuilding sector are the implications for the workforce which is already suffering from a crippling shortage of skills.

"A drive for more homes must come hand-in-hand with a drive to recruit more workers, so the Government must implement measures not only to retain the international talent already attracted to the UK, but to further support the sector to train and upskill the existing UK labour force."

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