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Govt strategy for MMC in ‘disarray’, parliamentary committee says

  • 26/01/2024
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Govt strategy for MMC in ‘disarray’, parliamentary committee says
The government has not come up with an approach which fully supports the use of modern methods of construction (MMC) for housebuilding, a parliamentary committee has stated.

The Built Environment Committee published a letter written to housing secretary Michael Gove in which it questioned the government’s understanding of the costs of MMC. 

It said there was “limited confidence” that there was a “coherent plan” to encourage the construction method which meant the government’s strategy could not be scrutinised. The committee said as the government pointed to MMC as central to housing delivery and had invested money into it, “this position is very disappointing”. 

The letter described the government’s approach as being “in disarray”, adding: “Millions of pounds of public money has been invested, but the money has not been backed by a coherent strategy and set of measurable objectives.” 

The Built Environment Committee said there were barriers to MMC such as a risk aversion from insurers and a lack of clarity around building regulations. 


MMC use and demand 

In the letter, the committee also questioned why there was not enough demand for MMC from private sector and said the government should assess whether there were barriers created by policy or if businesses were being excessively cautious. 

It said there was “contradictory evidence” as to whether MMC homes were less or more expensive to build, adding that due to the public investment being made, “the government should ensure it is achieving value for money”. 

The committee asked the government to publish data on the share of supported completions which used MMC in the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) “as soon as possible”. 

There is a requirement to use MMC through the AHP which has incentivised some housing associations, but the committee said this had not been enough to create strong pipelines. 

It also said it heard evidence that the start up costs for MMC were high, and this was being passed on to customers and subsequently the government through increased subsidy. 

Lord Moylan, chair of the Built Environment Committee, said: “Moderns methods of construction are successfully used to construct homes abroad and build high-rise and non-residential buildings in the UK, but this success has thus far eluded the building of MMC homes in meaningful numbers. 

“In the context of an ageing skilled workforce and the need for greater building sustainability, MMC has shown some promise. We heard evidence that the government couldn’t achieve its housebuilding targets without a sizeable contribution from the MMC sector.” 

He added: “Our inquiry found that the government has not set out clear objectives for the funding it provided the MMC sector. Homes England has not given any clear metrics as to how success is to be measured and over what timescale. 

“The government needs to change tack. Simply throwing money at the sector hasn’t worked. If it wants to encourage MMC it must acquire a much deeper understanding of how it works, develop a clear strategy, and demonstrate leadership.” 

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