• Wednesday, February 28, 2024


UK launches competition probe into homebuilders

Competition and Markets Authority has launched a probe into eight housebuilders to find out whether they influenced property prices. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

By: Shajil Kumar

Britain’s competition watchdog on Monday launched a probe into eight housebuilders, citing evidence that they may have shared information and “influenced” prices in a property market plagued by shortages.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had opened an investigation “into the suspected sharing of commercially sensitive information by housebuilders”.

Such activity “could be influencing” the pace of homebuilding and the prices of properties, the regulator added.

“It is important we tackle anti-competitive behaviour if we find it.”

The CMA said the eight companies comprised Barratt, Bellway, Berkeley, Bloor Homes, Persimmon, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey, and Vistry.

It stressed it had “not reached any conclusions as to whether competition law has been breached”.

Housing shortage

In a separate finding, the watchdog said the UK housing sector needed “intervention” to address a shortage in the construction of new homes — an issue set to feature in party manifestos ahead of a British general election expected this year.

“Housebuilding in Britain needs significant intervention so that enough good quality homes are delivered in the places that people need them,” said CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell.

The regulator called for a “streamlining” of planning rules and “increased” consumer protections to ensure an increased supply of homes to help bring down prices.

“If implemented, we would expect to see many more homes built each year, helping make homes more affordable,” added Cardell.

Even with those measures, she warned “further action may be required to deliver the number of homes Great Britain needs in the places it needs them”.

The CMA revealed on Monday that fewer than 250,000 new homes were built in Britain last year.

That was below a target of 300,000 given by the Bank of England.

The nation’s lack of affordable housing is one of its most glaring social problems, amid an ongoing cost-of-living crisis and high inflation. (AFP)

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