MPs' call to get more women in building industry

The Government is being urged to encourage more women to join the construction industry to help tackle a shortage of housing.

A cross-party group of MPs has called for action after warning that not enough homes are being built and young people are being priced out of expensive mortgages.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire said there was an urgent need to boost building after meeting with construction companies, local authority bosses and surveyors.

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Official figures show that between 2016 and 2017, whilst average earnings in Yorkshire and Humber rose by 1.2 per cent, average house prices rose by 3.4 per cent.

An analysis by the National Housing Federation also found that since 2012, around 36,000 too few homes were built to meet rising demand for houses in the region.

The group, which is chaired by Huddersfield Labour MP Barry Sheerman, said more should be done to encourage young people and women into building jobs to address skills shortages.

Mr Sheerman said: “A secure, decent and affordable home for all is vital not just to the people of Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire but for unlocking the economic potential of the region.”

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Members of the all-party group have written to the Housing Minister Kit Malthouse to seek a meeting.

Suggested measures include more resources to help local authorities process planning applications more quickly. At the moment, housing developments can take seven months to get approval. The group said the Government should address high land values which are preventing councils from using new borrowing powers to secure sites for housing.

In September, it emerged that landowners in England made more than £13bn in profits in 2016-17. Housing associations trying to build social homes were being outbid on land purchases by private developers, research found.

The Government is also being urged to provide tax relief for small and medium-sized builders.

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Mr Sheerman said: “The group has heard that a range of different measures are urgently needed to address the housing needs of the region and we look forward to an early opportunity to raise these with the Housing Minister.”

Last year, the former Secretary of State for Housing Sajid Javed warned local authorities over a lack of progress in identifying sites for future house building.

He gave 15 local authorities including Calderdale and York until this January to publish their housebuilding plans.

In August this year, it emerged that housebuilding had slumped to below the levels seen before the 2008 financial crash in more than half of council areas in England. About 340,000 new homes are needed in England every year to keep up with demand. Last year, only about 160,000 properites were built.