23/03/2018 – Housing Infrastructure Plan

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Last week (13 March 2018) the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his first Spring Statement since it was agreed that major tax or spending changes would be made once a year in the Autumn Budget.

At the heart of the government’s plan for building an economy that works for everyone, is the commitment to tackling the challenges in the housing market. The Chancellor announced an investment programme of £44 billion to raise housing supply to 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s. He also announced that they are currently working with 44 authorities who have bid into the £4.1 billion infrastructure fund to unlock homes in areas of high demand as well as working with authorities who have agreed to deliver above their local housing need.

He also said that the government will more than double the size of the housing growth partnership with Lloyds Banking Group to £220 million to provide additional finance for small builders. In the next few days, housing minister Dominic Raab will make further announcements on the housing infrastructure plan. It’s promising to see that the government are addressing the problems with the housing market and working to create the homes we desperately need. We need to build more homes, make sure they’re the type of homes that people want to live in and in the places where people want to live.

Architect and Channel 4 presenter George Clarke believes his modular scheme at the Smith’s Dock development in North Shields will ‘genuinely change the way we work and build homes’.

Included in the development are 10 properties, known as FAB houses, which have been created using offsite, modular technology meaning they’re created at a factory facility before being finished on site. This method of construction is a strong, reliable way of building good quality homes and it sounds like it could be just what we’re looking for when it comes to how we ease the housing crisis in the UK. In his report which reviewed the industry, Mark Farmer stated that pre-fab housing is the way forward when it comes to producing more affordable homes to regenerate the property market, and I couldn’t agree more.

In the Spring Statement, the Chancellor also announced that next month, a £29 million construction skills fund will open for business to fund up to 20 construction skills villages around the country. Further, he announced plans to launch a call for evidence on how to eliminate the scourge of late payments and will also release up to £80 million to support small businesses in funding apprentices. It is encouraging to see the government investing in construction skills, tackling the problems of late payments and helping small businesses to fund apprentices. In theory, it all sounds extremely promising, but now it’s time to put the plan into action and watch how it all unfolds – and that’s what I’m most excited about!

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.