Step change needed in housing delivery and mindset

Published:  08 November, 2016

A step change is needed in mind set and delivery on housebuilding, if the UK is to meet the government’s welcome ambition to build one million new homes by 2020, according a new CBI report.

‘In No Place Like Home’, the UK’s largest business group advocates an ambitious new way of thinking – matched with action – to tailor the types of houses that are built and the way they are delivered to the needs and aspirations of those who will live in them.

The UK’s housing shortage is not just a social issue, but an acute problem for businesses. The government has taken bold steps to deal with the problem – from Help to Buy to the more recent combined Home Building Fund – but lack of affordable homes continues to hamper firms’ ability to recruit and retain talented staff, and long commutes impact workers’ productivity.

The country’s population is set to grow by 10m in the next 25 years, so, to ensure the UK’s housing challenge is adequately met, the CBI wants to see:

  • A strategic housing plan from the Department for Communities and Local Government, with the forthcoming white paper on housing being integrated and joined up across Whitehall and beyond
  • Government help for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) housebuilders through improved release of small sites of public land and making access to finance easier, by rolling out its Home Building Fund
  • Recognising the importance of and improving the attractiveness of the Private Rented Sector.

Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said: “Solving the UK’s housing shortage has long been a tough nut to crack. For Britain’s businesses, it is far from something confined to the news columns. It’s a problem the impacts of which are seen every day, from high prices barring people moving home and deterring them from applying or staying in a job, to the dent it puts in productivity.

“A quiet revolution in the way business and the government think about, provide and deliver housing is necessary if we are to reach the welcome target of one million new homes by 2020.

“The “one size fits all” approach has passed its sell-by date. As the demographic landscape changes, we must have homes in the right places that fit the needs of people who live in them, creating vibrant and attractive communities. Equally, we must see different types of players in the market, like small housebuilders, more innovation and new partnerships between business to boost our supply base.

“A flexible approach, underpinned by government working with business, will enable us to deliver the homes we sorely need, and which will drive productivity, boost growth and increase prosperity in every corner of the country.”

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • Government should give greater flexibility to Housing Associations, and increase capital spending on affordable housing
  • The National Infrastructure Commission to include housing as a strand within its forthcoming National Infrastructure Assessment
  • Exploring the value of broadening the category of new homes that can be built on brownfield sites within the Green Belt
  • Joint collaboration between new players in the market – from hedge funds to construction contractors – and established industry experts, as well as further support for innovation in the sector, such as off-site manufacturing.

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