Like the sound of distant drums the noise about the shortage of housing in the UK is gradually being heard by all
“I was really interested to read an amazingly in depth analysis about the scale of the shortage of housing in the UK and the reasons for it on the BBC website recently. It was an excellent piece and summarised perfectly the facts of the situation. Of course for those of us in the construction sector this is not new, we have been talking about if for many years now; but there is a real change coming I think”.
“Like the sound of distant drums the noise about the shortage of housing, and the scale of it, is gradually being heard by all. It is my view that this is now such a massive issue that in the next 12 months there will need to be very serious policy decisions taken. The issue is now unavoidable and can no longer be kicked into the political long grass”.
“The facts are very simple; we currently don’t have enough houses for our population, and the requirements for housing are growing faster than the construction industry can deliver”.
You don’t need to be a mathematical genius to work out the results
“The UK is currently producing homes at its lowest peace time levels since the 1920’s, whilst demand is growing faster than at any time. So, if the problem is obvious, why are the solutions apparently so complicated?”
“The facts are that the industry simply does not have capacity in its current format to produce the 245,000 new homes which are estimated to be required each year. Current output is reported to be around 50% of the required level”.
“Land availability and land cost are major problems; planning permission whilst easing remains a problem; and pure economics remains an issue – demand Vs supply is keeping prices up”.
“But set all of those things aside and work on a level playing field; you then have to bring into play material shortages and even more crucially labour and skills shortages”.
“The construction industry has been drained of its labour and skills pool during the recession and they won’t come back anytime soon. New solutions will be critical to even try and get some forward momentum for the house building sector. Housing Associations are being tasked with producing more new homes, and for the first time in many years Local Authorities are also trying to build to some sort of workable scale”.
“These two sectors have an enormous part to play, especially in terms of producing affordable housing, where the numbers of people needing such homes also continue to outstrip capacity”.
“But capacity for affordable housing along with reducing the impact of materials, labour and skills shortages is one issue which can be addressed. Many Housing Associations are now working with the offsite construction sector to address their needs”.
“Better quality homes from a technical perspective are the ‘bonus’ which come from this kind of construction process; but the main advantage is guaranteed delivery from a sector which uses different materials, and a different kind of labour and skill set; skills which are not dependent on construction knowledge, but on manufacturing and process knowledge which are more easily learned and more readily available”.
“Delivery to agreed timescales to meet the promises made by Housing Associations to provide affordable housing is a massive plus for society. It is only a small step; but as the noise about the shortage of housing gets louder, if the noise about the performance of the offsite sector increases at the same level, then at least there will be a sense that meeting the number of homes required is maybe not beyond us after all”.