Homebuilders hit back at Michael Gove ‘cartel’ allegation Business

Britain’s leading homebuilders have hit out at Michael Gove after he described the industry as a ‘cartel’, calling his comments ‘totally unfounded’.

In a letter to Mr Gove, the Housing Secretary, industry leaders slammed the comments and urged him to be more constructive after a separate demand that homebuilders pay to remove flammable cladding from thousands of apartments.

On Monday, The Telegraph revealed Mr Gove’s comments on the Conservative Environment Network in which he said he had become unpopular with developers because of his stance on building safety.

“I’m not a poster boy [for developers] … I’m not particularly popular with developers right now because of some of the building safety measures we’ve taken and some of the other changes we want to make as well,” he said.

“There are 101 changes that we want to make, that we basically have a cartel of volume homebuilders who operate in a particular way, and there are all kinds of unfortunate consequences.”

Stewart Bazeley, chief executive of the Federation of Homebuilders, wrote: “I read with great concern your comments reported in the Telegraph which included an accusation that homebuilders were operating ‘a cartel’.

“The implications of this remark are significant and completely unfounded, as are some of the reported comments about the industry’s approach to the environmental agenda.”

Mr Gove’s remarks angered chief executives of major homebuilders, who discussed on Monday how to respond.

A source described the housing secretary’s comments as ‘puzzling’ and that he suggested some developers were ‘affiliated with a criminal organisation’.

Mr Bazeley’s letter also described Gove’s comments as “worrying” and said if the reforms are botched it could bankrupt many homebuilders.

Officials in Mr Gove’s department have told homebuilders planning permission could be withdrawn retrospectively from developers if an agreement on surfacing reforms is not signed by March.

Industry sources have warned the move could stall construction sites and cause businesses to collapse, describing it as an attempt to force developers to agree to Mr Gove’s terms.

Talks hit a stalemate after a counter offer from homebuilders to resolve the crisis was rebuffed.

A PwC analysis commissioned by the Federation of Home Builders found that the projected costs of resolving cladding issues for developers could be significantly lower than expected, with fewer sites affected than initially thought.

The deadline for talks at the end of March is fast approaching, but government and industry have yet to agree on the substantive details of a deal to resolve the crisis.

The Upgrade Department has been approached for comment.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-23 06:00:00

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