Once again those of us with a lifetime’s experience of housebuilding don’t know whether to laugh or cry as councillors bemoan the lack of skilled workers necessary to build their much-vaunted ‘affordable’ and ‘zero carbon’ homes (Building skills shortage in city, July 24).

The firms which provide the best apprenticeship training are small and medium building companies which used to be the backbone of the industry. Pre-1997 there were over 12,000 such firms who produced 57 per cent of all homes built. Now there are only 2,800 of them and they build only 27 per cent of new houses. The large housebuilding companies sub-contract a lot of work and do not provide the same all-round training.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that fewer firms means fewer apprenticeships and ultimately fewer skilled construction workers.

Small and medium companies have been squeezed out of the industry by over-regulation and ever more costly demands of the planning system.Therein lies the irony. It is the onerous requirements of those very policies insisting on so-called affordable homes and other impositions that has forced out of business the very firms that used to take on school leavers and train them to be skilled workers.

Here in York we once had a ludicrous 50 per cent affordable policy with a threshold of just two dwellings in areas where many small local housebuilding firms made their living. Many of those firms just gave up and ceased trading.

And councillors wonder why there is a shortage of skilled construction workers?

Matthew Laverack,

Lord Mayors Walk, York