HOUSE builder Barratt delivered a boost to the Scottish economy yesterday as it unveiled plans to ramp up its activities north of the Border over the next six months, safeguarding and creating thousands of jobs.
The FTSE 100 firm will break ground on up to 13 sites in what remains of its financial year, making a start on developments that will eventually contain some 2,100 homes.
The firm said it mostly employs local sub-contractors and tradesmen, and its latest push will “underpin around 4,000 existing and newly created jobs”.
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Douglas McLeod, regional director at Barratt Scotland, said: “We have seen demand for new homes expand very quickly over the year and the new sites we are opening mean that there will be more choice for local buyers.
“And it’s good news for the local economy, as in addition to supporting existing local construction jobs as well as creating new ones by building new homes, the local people who move into the new housing will also spend their wages locally.
“This means a significant boost for local retailers as well. It’s exactly what our local communities need.”
Sites include Alnwickhill and Duddingston Gardens in Edinburgh, Newcraighall village, Highland Gate in Stirling and a number of developments in Aberdeen.
McLeod said that Scottish house buyers are due to get a boost later this year with the return of the Help to Buy scheme.
The allocation for Holyrood’s version of the scheme ran out early last year due to high levels of demand, but new funding will become available in April.
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McLeod said: “First-time buyers and those moving up the housing ladder can get moving with just a 5 per cent deposit, a 20 per cent equity loan, and a 75 per cent mortgage.”
Barratt credited the parallel schemes on both sides of the Border with boosting the housing market last year.
Figures from the Scottish Chambers of Commerce show that construction workers enjoyed an average pay rise of 5.5 per cent in the final months of 2014, amid what it called “remarkable growth” in the sector.
Earlier this week Barratt posted figures showing that, UK-wide, the company sold 12.5 per cent more houses in the second half of 2014, compared to a year earlier.
Chief executive Mark Clare said: “We are on track for another significant improvement in our financial performance for the full year as we continue to operate in a disciplined way, building the highest quality homes in places people want to live.
“Our significant investment programme in new land continues to pay off and over the next six months we plan to open around 90 new sites which will give us the highest average number of developments for six years. Over their lifetime, these new sites will deliver another 13,500 much needed new homes.”
Yesterday Bovis Homes, which does not have a presence in Scotland, became the latest building company to publish double-digit growth figures for last year.
It said it had “delivered on its growth ambitions for 2014 and expects to announce a significant increase in profit before tax, in line with market expectations”.
It added that the profits boost was down to a 29 per cent jump in completions and an increase of 11 per cent in its average sale price.