Housebuilders to meet Hunt for talks as industry tax bill soars

Business

The bosses of Britain’s biggest housebuilders will hold talks with the chancellor this week as they face a multibillion-pound bill in the form of several new levies.

Sky News has learnt that the executives from companies including Barratt Developments, Fairview and Persimmon will meet Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF), the leading industry lobbying group, will also attend the meeting.

Mr Hunt’s discussions with the housebuilding bosses will come just days after the companies received a final legal contract from the government to oblige them to spend around £2bn to fix fire safety defects on high-rise buildings.

Michael Gove, the levelling-up secretary, has given companies until mid-March to sign the contract or face a ban on commencing new construction work.

The meeting with the chancellor will also come just weeks before the Budget, with the HBF having labelled the autumn statement in November as “a wasted opportunity”.

In its Budget submission, the HBF called on Mr Hunt to introduce a new home ownership scheme targeting first-time buyers.

It also criticised the proposed £3bn Building Safety Levy, saying it was “concerned about the fairness of the industry being hit with another levy”.

“While the government has committed to a ‘polluter must pay’ principle, to date no sectors or actors other than UK home builders have made any contribution,” it said.

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“This includes the product manufacturers generally, as well as those described by the secretary of state as ‘the three cladding and insulation firms most closely associated with the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower’.

“Indeed, it is only the private home building industry which has been repeatedly targeted for contributions, which likely now total £5bn worth of commitments to buildings they have built and those developed by foreign developers.”

Tuesday’s meeting will be Mr Hunt’s first summit with the industry since he was appointed to the job last autumn, and takes place at a time when members of Labour’s front-bench team are furiously courting business leaders.

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