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100,000 jobs at risk in Britain.

LONDON: The slump in Britain's housing market, with prices falling at a faster pace than during the 1990s downturn, could cost up to 100,000 jobs, according to an industry body."The housebuilding industry has a huge multiplier effect on employment and the wider economy," House Builders Association, a division of the National Federation of Builders, strategic policy adviser Roger Humber said.

"If major housebuilders continue to cut around 40 per cent of their workforce ... there will be further losses amongst those employed by thousands of smaller housebuilders," he said.

"(Also,) many more thousands of self-employed tradesmen and sub-contractors, building materials producers, manufacturers of white goods, carpets, curtains, DIY, estate agents, and solicitors will be affected."

Humber said research by Cambridge Econometrics during the last housing recession, when 100,000 fewer houses were built per annum, put total job losses then in the region of 100,000.

"We are heading in the same direction again," he said.

Major stockmarket-listed housebuilders have announced around 5,000 jobs cuts in the past fortnight to cope with the deepening depression in the housing market.

Some, like Bovis Homes on Wednesday, are cutting 40 per cent of their workforce.

Bovis chief executive David Ritchie said the downturn had gathered pace in the past few weeks and now felt "an awful lot worse" than the last major correction in the early 1990s.

A 10-year boom in Britain's housing market began slowing last summer before the global credit crunch choked off the supply of cheap and easy money that had helped fuel a tripling of prices in a decade.

Housebuilders' share prices have collapsed this year, partly on fears of big writedowns on land bought at the peak of the housing market.

The index of leading housebuilders has fallen by 30pc this year underperforming the broader stock market by 16pc in the process.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jul 13, 2008
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