Housebuilder Barratt urges Government to rethink fire safety levy

Bosses at housebuilder Barratt have urged the Government to rethink plans to expand a levy to finance fire safety repairs.

The FTSE 100 firm, along with other UK housing firms, has signed up to the Government’s building safety pledged and committed to solving historic fire safety issues in the aftermath of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire.

The move amounted to £2 billion worth of commitments, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said last month.

In April, the department also revealed plans to extend the levy to tax all new residential building in England, in a move which would raise a further £3 billion to fix safety issues where developers were not identified or able to resolve issues.

However, Barratt has now urged the Government to “reconsider” this.

“In our view, this is unjust and disproportionate, further punishing UK housebuilders who were not responsible for most of the historical buildings or building safety issues being addressed and fails to effectively allocate the cost of remediation to those responsible,” the company said.

It came as Barratt hailed “strong” demand in the current housing market and reported strengthening forward sales.

The company reported total forward sales of £4.38 billion on May 1, compared with £3.69 billion at the same point last year.

Barratt added that it is on track to complete between 18,000 and 18,250 homes, including 750 through joint ventures, putting it in line with previous expectations.

David Thomas, chief executive of the company, said: “We are seeing strong demand across the country for our high quality, energy efficient homes and our excellent operational teams are working hard to meet this demand.

“We expect to deliver full-year trading results in line with the board’s expectations as we remain focused on growing towards our medium-term target of 20,000 homes a year, delivering high quality sustainable developments the country needs, creating jobs and supporting the economy across England, Scotland and Wales.”

Shares in the business rose by 1.6% to 492.4p in early trading on Thursday.