Brandon Lewis CIH
The housing minister gave his keynote speech to the conference via video link, as part of a session chaired by journalist and political commentator Owen Jones

Housing minister tells sector ‘keep calm and carry on’

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Brandon Lewis MP used his keynote speech at the CIH Housing conference in Manchester to reassure the industry that despite challenges ahead following the EU referendum, housebuilding remained “a national and Government priority”.

Lewis put the scheduled topic of estate regeneration to one side to address “the topic on everyone’s minds”:

“The world is not as it was before the result, but the need for new homes continues, people need homes, there are still a lot of people out there coming through in the system and are already in the system who do not yet have the keys to a new home.

“Now the impact of the current uncertainty of the markets has certainly already been felt in the sector. We can all see that in the figures we see coming through on a daily basis, but we have to remember how things were in the wake of the last crash, when housebuilding was on the floor and the banks were on their knees. If we rebuilt from that dire position, we can certainly get through the current turbulence that we’ve got, where we’re starting with a housing sector in a healthier state than it was back then, certainly on the private sector side that’s true.

“While Government policy I would argue has played a part, it couldn’t have been achieved without having a stronger industry, an industry with the strength to keep calm and carry on, and in urging you to do just that, let me provide some reassurance to you. Despite the challenge ahead, our manifesto commitments stay true, our policy programmes to deliver on those commitments carry on, and that includes delivering 200,000 starter homes by 2020, freeing up public sector land for new house, support for small and specialist builders, the diversification of our industry, reforms to compulsory purchase, further reforms to streamline the planning system, and we remain committed to extending the right to buy.

“It won’t be long until we have a new Prime Minister, but I am certain that housing will continue as a national and Government priority, indeed at a time of uncertainty and when there are concerns about economic growth, clear commitment on behalf of the Government to keep Britain building becomes more, not less, important.

“There is no denying that we now live in a new world, with new challenges, as of last week. But please do not be in any doubt, there is an undying and a unity of purpose, to making sure we build the homes that our country needs.”

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