Industry group formed to address supply issues

A pan-industry group of housing profes- sionals is calling on the Government to take bolder steps to secure increased housing supply over the longer-term. The Housing Forum believes that

politics should be taken out of housing, suggesting that all planning applications with fewer than 250 homes should be determined by the officers, not the elected officials. It also supported greater cross-party political and industry consensus going forward. Its report, ‘Future proofing housing

supply’ offers 10 solutions which it says would help the Government reach the targeted 250,000 homes a year. The 10 solutions range from strengthening leader- ship and financial mechanisms in local authorities, to doing more to boost capacity in the sector and direct commissioning and investment. Stephen Teagle, chief executive at

Galliford Try and deputy chairman of the Housing Forum, said the Government’s focus on supply through a broad range of measures is “welcome” and will “contribute to lifting the supply of homes we need.” “This report takes that ambition a stage

further,” he continued, “calling for renewed leadership at a local level, greater invest- ment and a strengthened platform for collaboration to future-proof delivery over


1. Housing should be depoliticised. Take party politics out of housing strategy and delivery by creating cross-party housing groups and removing elected members from decision making on some planning applications

2. Government to appoint a Housing Minister to the Cabinet and directly commission new homes on public sector land

3. All local authorities must become more pro-active leaders of housing supply. The housing sector needs all local members and council officers to capitalise on this position and drive housing supply

4. Create a single voice for the housing industry. A single message delivered by a new housing industry body would enable clear, powerful and effective communication with Government

5. Government and industry to implement the Farmer Review’s call for

modernisation of housebuilding skills and technology to address the looming skills crisis

6. Local authorities should be encouraged to sell land by judging potential buyers against ‘best value’ factors including the speed of delivery of new homes

7. Central and local Government to revise the planning system so it favours increased supply including PRS / Build to Rent and encourages the allocation of sites of different sizes so as to attract interest from a range of builders

8. Government to agree a long-term, large-scale capital investment plan for housing for the next 10 years

9. Give local authorities the financial mechanisms to directly commission new housing and greater freedom for risk sharing with the private sector

10. Create a centre of excellence for procurement expertise for use across the sector

the next decade.” Shelagh Grant, chief executive of The

Housing Forum, added: “If the housing supply is truly to be turned on to full, then still more needs to be done to overcome the challenges that exist in the market and create a benign and sustainable environ- ment for housebuilding.” Speaking of the “radical departures” the

forum’s solutions will produce, Shelagh believes “we have been tinkering at the edges for too long.” “We need to lift housing output to levels

not seen since the 1970s,” she commented; “that needs bold actions and brave decisions.”

8 per cent of construction workforce at risk post-Brexit

The UK construction industry could lose almost 200,000 EU workers post-Brexit if Britain’s access to the single market is compromised, putting some of the country’s biggest infrastructure and construction projects under threat, accord- ing to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). RICS has cautioned that for Brexit to

succeed, it is essential to secure continued access to the EU single market or to put alternative plans in place to safeguard the future of the property and construction sectors in the UK. Latest RICS figures have shown that 8

per cent of the UK’s construction workers are EU nationals, accounting for some 176,500 people. 30 per cent of the construction professionals surveyed revealed that hiring non-UK workers was important to the success of their businesses. The UK is already in the midst of a

construction skills crisis. While some overseas professionals such as ballet dancers are regarded as critical by the UK government, and are therefore prioritised during the visa application process, construction professions have not yet been added to the ‘UK Shortage Occupations List’. RICS is warning that this could already

be placing the UK’s predicted £500bn infra- structure pipeline under threat, and must be addressed as a priority. RICS head of UK policy, Jeremy

Blackburn says that while it is in all our interests to make a success of Brexit, “a loss of access to the single market has the potential to bring the UK’s £500bn infra- structure pipeline to a standstill.” Jeremy explained: “that means that

unless access to the single market is secured, or alternative plans are put in place, we won’t be able to create the infra- structure needed to enable our cities to compete on a global stage.” He suggested that a “simple first step”

could be to “ensure that construction professions such as quantity surveyors feature on the Shortage Occupations List.” “Ballet dancers won’t improve our infra-

structure or solve the housing crisis,” he quipped, “yet their skills are currently viewed as essential, whereas construction professionals are not.”


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