LONDON, March 20 Housebuilders Barratt
Developments and Crest Nicholson set out plans
to expand their businesses on Thursday after the British
government extended a housing scheme that has driven buyer
Finance Minister George Osborne confirmed in his annual
budget on Wednesday that the government would extend the equity
loan portion of the Help to Buy scheme for four years longer
than planned to 2020, a move he said would deliver 120,000 new
In response, Barratt Developments, Britain's largest
housebuilder by volume, said it plans to hire 3,000 more workers
as it anticipates increasing the number of sites it is working
on to 450, from the current 380.
Smaller housebuilder Crest Nicolson, said it would be
setting up a third, new business in the Home Counties region
around London, which could add up to 600 homes a year to its
completion rates once it is fully up-and-running.
"As the land we are buying today is for the homes we will be
building in 2016 and beyond, the industry needed a longer term
framework for Help to Buy," Barratt's Chief Executive Mark Clare
Crest's Chief Executive Stephen Stone said the extension
would help to underpin demand for new homes for the next six
years "and that gives us the confidence".
The Help to Buy scheme has greatly benefited the
housebuilders by accelerating Britain's housing recovery and
shoring up demand to boost selling rates and profits. It has
also allowed a number such as Persimmon and Taylor
Wimpey to unveil plans to hand out cash to shareholders.
The extension also illustrates how the debate over Britain's
housing shortage has crept to the top of the political agenda,
with elections just over a year away.
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; editing by Kate Holton)