Liberal Democrat Cable's five page letter, dated 8 February and leaked to the BBC, is sharply critical of what he sees as the shortcomings in the government's industrial and economic policies.
He makes five suggestions to improve the situation, of which the fifth relates to the construction industry, stating:
‘Finally, the economy will continue to struggle while the construction industry remains so depressed. By contrast the big recovery in the 1930s was driven by a combination of new industries (cars and chemicals) and construction: estates of semis and lots of council housing. Construction provides plenty of jobs and supports UK supply chains, including innovative products, ranging from new more sustainable construction materials to energy saving technologies.The National Housing Federation welcomed Cable's comments. NHF Chief Executive David Orr told Inside Housing:
‘I strongly welcome the Housing Strategy that Number 10 developed last autumn. Galvanising the housing construction market would have a much wider economic impact in stimulating innovation and growth, and I absolutely agree that it should be an important priority. There is a particular problem with financing; the housing associations, which could drive recovery, are unable to mobilise funds on any scale. We should have the same level of commitment across Government to getting housing moving as is beginning to happen for infrastructure.’
‘A public investment of £1 billion - matched by £10 billion from housing associations - would build 66,000 new homes and create around 100,000 jobs in the construction industry, plus many more in the wider supply chain.
‘It would also save the government nearly £400 million in benefit payments and boost national economic activity by £15 billion. Few other sectors can offer this potential with such short lead-in times and the prospect of so much of the benefit being retained domestically.’