Government Challenged to Support Property SMEs

Defocused Conference Setting

LendInvest, the leading marketplace platform for property finance, hosted a cross-party roundtable at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester yesterday to discuss a package of support for property SMEs to scale up and deliver more homes across the country.

Government Challenged to Support Property SMEs

Government Challenged to Support Property SMEs

The invitation-only event was co-hosted by Prospect, the monthly political journal.

The Co-Founder and CEO of LendInvest, Christian Faes, led a conversation with a number of housing and business policy experts from across the UK. These included: Chris Philp MP, a member of the Chancellor’s Treasury team; Mary Robinson MP, a member of the CLG Select Committee; Richard Bacon MP and Peter Aldous MP, two backbench Conservative MPs with interests in housing; Richard Blakeway, the former Deputy Mayor of London for Housing and Homes & Communities Agency board member; Tom Bloxham MBE and Marc Vlessing, CEOs of property development companies Urban Splash and Pocket Living respectively; and David Ellison, a Manchester-based Labour councillor.

The roundtable discussion built on a report published by LendInvest in March 2017, titled Starting Small to Build More Homes: A Blueprint for Better Policymaking for Property SMEs. The report examines the challenges faced by property SMEs, such as constrained access to finance, and distorted policy around regulation, taxation and access to land.

The participants discussed in detail the disparity in opportunity between property SMEs and those in other sectors, and reflected on ways in which the Government should revise its treatment of small and medium-sized property firms, as well as recognise the positive contribution they can make to resolving the UK’s deep-rooted housing crisis.

Faes comments: “There are five times fewer small-scale developers today than in the last housebuilding boom, and not a single one of today’s top ten housebuilders was created before 1990. There is a clear monopoly in the sector. What was clear from our discussion is that more must be done to level the playing field for property entrepreneurs, so that they can do business with confidence. This means sweeping away barriers to finance and land for SMEs, as well as celebrating industry initiatives to improve skills in the sector. The cost of doing business must also be reduced.”

Bacon also says: “Politicians talk often about building more homes as if it were politicians who build them. Let’s stop focusing on targets and let the builders get on with it. The Government’s role is to remove barriers, not add to them.”

Andy Davis, the Associate Editor at Prospect magazine, adds: “At a time where the Government maintains ambitious housing delivery targets, we are seeing a generational loss of smaller housebuilders. If we are to see SMEs succeed and scale, we must challenge the regulatory system that is geared towards mass volume housebuilders and ensure that property entrepreneurs can access the finance they need for their schemes to take off.”

At the Conservative Party conference at the weekend, the Government outlined new plans to offer tenants greater rights.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn plans to introduce rent controls under proposals detailed at the Labour Party conference last week.

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