Govt at risk of missing housing targets if modern methods are not embraced

Written by Oliver Wade
03/07/2019

The government is at risk of missing its target to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s if it does not embrace modern methods of construction (MMC) and shrug off its reliance on traditional methods, according to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee.

The report, published today, underlined that the UK has not built enough homes, leading to increased housing costs, and urged that the “ambitious target” to build 300,000 homes annually is not feasible due to constraints such as the shortages of skilled workers. As a result, the committee is calling for policymakers to “unlock the potential” for MMC.

Suggestions made by the group of MPs include the use of new materials, embracing technology and creating digital solutions, and precision manufacturing techniques to increase the speed at which homes could be built across the UK.

The report highlighted that homebuilders need to use more digital technology in their processes, rather than simply “moving their construction off-site”, arguing that MMC needs to take advantage of the predicted benefits, such as improved quality.

“Digital technology makes it possible to create a database that would store and track data about built environment. It should record the materials and processes used in the construction of homes. It could also track repairs and alterations in larger housing developments and make this information available to relevant stakeholders, including insurers and fire services,” the MMC report said.

It also argued the government must ensure that skills programmes, apprenticeship schemes and the new T Level provides learners with the skills they need for both traditional techniques and MMC and encourages more younger people into the sector.

“The shortage of workers with relevant skills is one of the main constraints to increasing homebuilding in the UK. It is vital the Government increases skills provision and turns homebuilding into an appealing career choice for young people,” the report noted.

Commenting, Committee chair Clive Betts said: “The housing system is in urgent need of a major boost, and if the government is to have any chance meeting its ambitious target, it must grasp every opportunity new technologies allow. But the must act fast and act now.”

Also in the recommendations, the committee argued that the government should report annually the total amount allocated to MMC developments across all its different funding streams.

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