UK business group calls for more innovation in the new build housing market

Massive increase in construction predicted in next decade with China leading the way, new report say

Meeting the UK Government’s target of building a million new homes by 2020 will require a step change in mind set and delivery on house building, according a new report.

Houses will need to be tailored to demand and built in a less traditional way, taking into account the needs of first time buyers and retired people, say the report No Place Like Home from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The country’s largest business group is calling for ambition and innovation to cope with the current lack of affordable homes as this has an adverse impact on firms’ ability to recruit and retain talented staff, and long commutes impact workers’ productivity.

The CBI is calling for 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.

The report suggests that there should be Government help for small and medium sized enterprise (SME) house builders through improved release of small sites of public land and making access to finance easier by rolling out its Home Building Fund and says that house building policy should recognise the importance of and improving the attractiveness of the private rented sector.

‘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,’ said Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director general.

‘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,’ he explained.

‘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 house builders, more innovation and new partnerships between business to boost our supply base,’ he pointed out.

‘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,’ he added.

Other recommendations in the report include greater flexibility for housing associations, an increase in capital spending on affordable housing and exploring the value of broadening the category of new homes that can be built on brownfield sites within the Green Belt.

It also suggests a 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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