According to The 2020 Group - a new group of leading housing organisations, unions and local authorities - investing billions to build 100,000 new homes over the next two years will give a desperately needed boost to the economy, save thousands of construction jobs, avoid serious skills shortages and help stimulate long term market stability.

Other members of the group include the National Housing Federation (NHF), housing charity Shelter, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the TUC.

Chief executive of Shelter, Adam Sampson said, the package pointed a way forward for the government, " .... building the homes this country needs can not only help the thousands of people living in poor housing, it can also give a real and much needed financial injection to the economy."

The 2020 Group state that with Social housing waiting lists rising, this package would meet a 'real and urgent' need.

Support for housing today offers excellent value in terms of sustaining economic activity .... the case for more general and council housing was strong. When such investment can ensure such an important sector as construction retain jobs, capacity and its skills base, the case for a significant boost in the Budget becomes overwhelming.

With on average every year 90,000 more households joining the ever increasing social housing waiting list, demand will grow even faster. It means that the properly trained and qualified skills right across the construction industry, from bricklaying, to electrical installation, plumbing and tiling will be urgently required even more than ever.

The building industry looks to be the secret weapon by which to keep working through the downturn, help kickstart the economy and provide valuable resources where the UK needs it most.