She made it abundantly clear that Labour wanted to put housing issues at the centre of the political agenda in the run up to the next election, now just 16 months away.
She was right to acknowledge that successive governments, of all political hues, had failed to tackle the problem of housing supply. With a growing, aging and changing population it is clear that our housing requirements are going to become ever more diverse and that the supply of new homes must meet these diverse needs.
In terms of meeting changing demands and enabling the homes people require to be built in the places people want them, the Labour party wants to increase competition in the house building sector. The shadow minister sees the key to this as improving access to smaller local and self/custom builders.
This market is also a priority for the current coalition government but Labour plans to go further by guaranteeing access to public land for smaller and self-builders.
While access to adequate plots in the right locations, navigating the planning process, and understanding how to go about making your self-built home a reality are not insignificant hurdles – access to mortgage finance for most self-builders is vital.
There are few large lenders involved actively in the self/custom build market currently although Lloyds Bank has confirmed that it is looking more closely at the role it plays.
Typically, self-build does not fit simply into a large scale mortgage operation where much of the process is automated; in fact each case is bespoke and the payments need to be released in stages.
The overwhelming majority of lenders providing self-build mortgages are building societies – indeed that is how the movement first started. Labour wants to work with mortgage lenders to created standardised mortgages for self and custom builders.
A good place to begin would be by talking to those organisations providing these mortgages today to ensure that the needs of borrowers continue to be met. At the BSA we stand ready and willing to engage.
Paul Broadhead is head of mortgage policy at the BSA