After being announced in March 2021, the Help to Build equity loan scheme has opened, with applications accepted from Monday. NaCSBA welcomes the scheme, which it has lobbied for several years, as it will help more people with smaller deposits access an owner commissioned home.
The scheme is a key component in sector growth due to the fact that the custom and self build market is served by a network of smaller lenders, most of which are building societies. Capacity to support the sector is constrained by the financial rules that frame activity, and this makes it especially for those with smaller deposits to access finance.
Custom and self build was, in the main, unable to access the Help to Buy scheme that boosted the new homes market so significantly, and Help to Build will help redress this imbalance. Based on proposals developed by NaCSBA, the scheme empowers and enables many more people to build the homes that they want to live in, bringing choice and diversity to the market.
Last year Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We know that self and custom build delivers high-quality, well-designed homes, that are energy efficient, accessible, affordable and welcomed by their communities”.
Help to Build will support more people to access such a home, and customer choice will lead to better choice and better value.
But it is more than that, as Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO points out: “Our home can protect us, it can inspire us, and it can sustain us and our community. It can make us healthier and fitter – mentally and physically, and it can enable us to live better lives.”
NaCSBA believes that our full range of needs and desires can only be met when we have greater choice over the design and specification of our home – just as happens in every other country in the world. The UK is unique in the lack of choice that exists, and the results of that failure are clear to see.
Research from NaCSBA’s recent Custom and Self Build Market Report showed that, when given more choice, self builders build better and greener homes than those on the open market, with over half choosing a sustainable heating source and choosing to build with highly-efficient Modern Methods of Construction.
“Help to Build is important because it opens up custom and self-build as an option to those with smaller budgets and in particular smaller savings. Access to finance is just part of the answer. The key constraint is access to land with permission to build. This challenge is being addressed in part through the Right to Build legislation, which requires local authorities to ensure enough plots are permissioned to match the demand on the registers that they operate.
“However, some local authorities have been too slow to respond to the legislation, and it is important that they do more, not least to respond to the increased demand following the launch of this scheme. This is why the government’s response to the Bacon Review, also published today, and the ongoing funding to the Right to Build Task Force are important pieces in a wider plan,” says Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO.
Karen Curtin, managing director at Graven Hill, believes the Help to Build scheme was long overdue, saying: “The Help to Build scheme is a dream come true for many would-be self-builders, and we’re in full support of the initiative. With applications now open, the UK is finally moving in the right direction as we continue to revolutionise the housing market. Gone are the days of self and custom building being for the few – we are thrilled to see it become an option for the many.”
Next steps for growth
Help to Build represents an opportunity for sector growth, and NaCSBA is encouraging the sector to ensure that the fullest possible ranges of options to custom and self-build exists. This includes, for example, the building of custom and self build flats and apartments, and the conversion and renovation of existing properties.
The challenge now is to secure enough smaller and more affordable plots and options to enable people to take advantage of Help to Build, and democratise self build. This will help address the “Missing Market” identified by Richard Bacon MP in his Review of Custom and Self Build.
“When we have fully opened up the housing market and the planning process to the power of consumer choice, we will see more great places being developed which are warmly welcomed by their communities, with beautiful and more spacious houses, at keener prices – and that are better designed, better built, greener and which cost less to run, which enrich the lives of the people who live there – while driving innovation and inward investment. And when afterwards we have done this, we will look back and wonder why it took us so long,” Richard Bacon, Review of Custom and Self Build.