The house building industry has called for a tenfold increase in the £200m fund set up by the government to buy unwanted homes from the private sector and turn them into social housing.

The fund – one of several measures to stave off a collapse in the housing market that were announced by Alistair Darling in his spring Budget – must be expanded to £2bn in the pre-Budget report to have a significant impact, according to Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation.

The money already allocated for this “clearing house” of homes came from front-loading the budget of the new Homes and Communities Agency, which has £8.4bn to spend over three years.

It is understood that officials are examining ways of moving more of the total amount upfront to help meet Mr Darling’s desire for Keynesian pump priming of the economy. A cabinet minister told the Financial Times that housing offered an easier way of moving capital spending forward than other big projects, such as schools, hospitals and transport.

Financial Times