Small builders tell us that the two key constraints that they face are access to land and finance. Our home building fund includes £1 billion of short-term loan funding for small builders, and our recent White Paper will ensure that councils make small sites available.
I thank the Minister for that answer, because the time it takes to get a site through the planning process is often a challenge for small builders, who are less able to bear the risk involved and the funding required. Will he continue with the reforms he is making to the planning system to ensure that local planning authorities can deal speedily with small sites?
My hon. Friend is right to raise the challenges that small builders face. We plan to boost the capacity of planning authorities by allowing them to increase planning fees. With regard to the designation regime, the Government will take action when councils are not taking sufficient decisions within a certain timescale. I also draw the House’s attention to the new permission in principle regime, which is a way for small builders to find out the planning certainty for a site without their having to do the full preparation work.
My local authority of Flintshire, which is just over the border from England, is building 500 new council homes, which are being constructed by small builders. Is not this approach, which is putting people into housing and creating jobs in the private building sector, a good way forward?
The White Paper is very clear on this point—we absolutely want councils to get back into the business of building homes. There is a huge need for more housing and the more people who are involved in the building of homes the happier the Government will be.