Publisher Lesley Mayo

James Parker


Following what has been a turbulent summer, winds continue to blow across the industry which could cause lasting damage. Alongside uncertainty from Brexit, the shaky Government majority, and now a ban on the selling of new leaseholds, there are issues with construction supply chains, and productivity problems – particularly concerning in the light of the 250,000 homes per year target.

Rudi Klein, head of the Specialist Engineering Contractors Group, recently wrote in the FT that the Carillion saga, which saw its shares tumble, “exposed the fragility of the finances of the top UK contractors.” He said that by transferring financial risk to their supply chains, manipulating payments, and retaining cash as “security” for performance, major contractors were putting up “key barriers to improving the industry’s performance and productivity.”

This comes shortly after the belated Government response to Mark Farmer’s 2016 review, which was partly initiated as a result of the Construction Leadership Council’s concerns that productivity was being undermined by the sector’s reliance on subcontracted labour.


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The Government, naturally, wants supply chains to be more productive, to ensure design quality and workmanship, and be more innovative. As ever, suggestions as to ‘how’ are scarce. In addition to training and technology, the key recommendation being proposed by the CLC is that housing be used as a “scalable pilot programme” for “changing commissioning trends from traditional to pre-manufactured approaches.” In short, it should try a major move to offsite.

Given all of the issues with the supply chain, and delivery of housing in general, are the winds blowing from the offsite community likely to shake up many traditional housebuilding supply chains? Could we see it perhaps replaced by something, if less lucrative for some, perhaps more robust and reliable? The CLC however only gives glimpses of how it thinks that the “longer term collaborative relationships” that it sees as possible from pre-manufactured approaches could be formally rolled out.


Malaysian/UK joint venture Ecoworld Ballymore expands its London presence further with a 1700-home island development overlooking the O2

Malaysian/UK joint venture Ecoworld Ballymore expands its London presence further with a 1700-home island development overlooking the O2

It says Government should promote the use of offsite solutions via “conditional” investment in PRS, more pre-manufactured social housing, or direct commissioning. It thinks the Government should also consider “planning breaks” for off-site developments, perhaps an admission that the Housing White Paper and the MMC-oriented £1.7bn Accelerated Construction Programme will not be enough.

London City Island © Ecoworld Ballymore

Maybe we will have to wait until Legal & General begins turning out homes on a daily basis from its new factory to see things really begin to change across the industry.


Managing Editor James Parker

Assistant Editor Jack Wooler

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Senior Sales Executives Sheehan Edmonds Nathan Hunt

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