The true cost of Gove’s new cladding policy on the housing sector


Source: Shutterstock

Michael Gove’s January announcement that housebuilders will foot the £4bn cladding repair bill sparked a two-month share price nose-dive. But is this the City overreacting or a real fall in fortunes? Joey Gardiner reports


Source: Shutterstock

Recladding work on a block of flats in a high-rise building in east London – housebuilders face an end of March deadline to finalise negotiations over liability with the housing secretary

It has been a rollercoaster couple of years for UK residential developers, with the bust and then unexpected – and prolonged – boom of the covid crisis. But we’ve reached a point where we can pretty definitively say that right now, housebuilders are not flavour of the month. Not with politicians, not with cladding campaigners – and definitely not with investors.

Because despite a recent slew of company results showing some of the sector’s top firms in positively glowing health, the share prices of the listed companies have fallen by a quarter since the start of the year. In total nearly £11bn has been wiped off the market value of the UK’s publicly traded housebuilders in a determined sell-off, to the point at which a number are now priced at less than the value of the assets they own.

This is quite something, considering Taylor Wimpey last week reported a bumper 157% boost in pre-tax profit and 54% growth in revenue in its 2021 accounts – to give one example – while Persimmon reported pre-tax profit of nearly £1bn, up 23%, on revenue of £3.6bn – to give another. Firms across the sector are reporting lengthy forward order books, huge cash reserves, and continuing strong sales demand.

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