Balls calls for more housing guarantees

A Labour government in 2015 would use Treasury guarantees to access cheap finance for a new boom in housebuilding, shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has said.

In a speech to the National Housebuilding Council, Balls challenged his opposite number to expand the UK Guarantees initiative to help get plans for a raft of new ‘garden cities’ off the ground.

Labour has already pledged to deliver 200,000 new homes by 2020 if elected, and Balls believes this can be achieved through building a number of new towns – as happened after the Second World War – and will be financed at least in part through an expanded guarantees programme.

“The government is providing guarantees of up to £12bn for Help to Buy,” he said. “[Osborne] should now step up to the plate to back the supply of new houses in new towns.”

Balls also revealed that Labour plans to resurrect the development corporations that delivered the post-war building boom, suggesting that these could be underpinned by government guarantees so that they could access cheap finance.