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House building 'should be easier'

The Government should make it easier for people to build their own homes as it looks to tackle the housing crisis, MPs have said.

Local authorities must be given a greater say on housing projects, while pension funds and other investment funds should be encouraged to invest in building new homes.

The report by MPs on the Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee also found more than 230,000 households were forming each year in England, but last year only 110,000 new homes were built.

Labour MP Clive Betts, who chairs the committee, said: "There is no silver bullet. We have to muster all the resources we can. The Government's housing strategy has made a useful start and we hope many of its measures will provide a stimulus over the short to medium term.

"But we need more action if we are to see significant long-term improvement in housing supply."

He added: "Self-build schemes could be a major new source of housing in England, but it will take substantial institutional change to realise this potential. Government, local authorities and lenders must work together to remove the barriers that currently restrict self-build and commit to getting pilot schemes under way very quickly."

Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey said: "This timely cross-party report underlines the growing housing crisis in Britain. One that the Tory-led Government's policies are making worse, not better.

"House building is down 26% on the average under Labour, homelessness is rising, the mortgage market remains weak and private rents are increasingly unaffordable. As the findings of this report demonstrate there are real concerns that the Tory-led Government is presiding over the slow death of social and affordable homes."

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: "I welcome the committee's comments and agree that we need more action. That's why I'm pledging to back the self-build boom and support the industry to double in size over the next few years.

"As well as a new website which I launched at No 10 Downing Street on the 19th April, giving help and advice, we're working hard to identify more land for development and have reformed the planning rules to stop people's aspirations getting tangled in red tape."