Housebuilders could be forced to sign up to a code of conduct in order to benefit from a revised Help to Buy scheme in 2021.
In an interview with The Times, the housing secretary, James Brokenshire, said:
"Today we have launched our consultation on redress for purchasers of new build homes and the New Homes Ombudsman. This seeks views on the detail of the proposed legislation and how a New Homes Ombudsman can be delivered.
As we do this, we are exploring the options to appoint a New Homes Ombudsman in shadow form – someone to work closely with industry, consumer groups and government to ensure improvements and standards are delivered quickly and help shape the future scheme.
We will be introducing a new Help to Buy scheme, which will run until 2023. We will look to set new conditions on the scheme to drive up quality and standards. This includes requiring any builder wanting to access the new scheme to adhere to quality standards and clear rights of redress as envisaged by the New Homes Ombudsman scheme we are creating."
The government wants to restrict the use of taxpayers’ money to support the construction of poor-quality builds. Builders have previously been warned that they must end “unacceptable” punitive costs and “nightmare” snagging problems in new homes.
The quality standards could be linked with the customer service ratings issued by the Home Builders Federation, although it is understood that a more strenuous rating devised independently of the trade association would be preferred.
The end of the current scheme in 2023 will pose a challenge to housebuilders, which have come to rely on it for ever-increasing profits. Profit per house at Persimmon, Britain’s most profitable housebuilder, has almost tripled from £22,114 in 2012 to £60,219 last year.