MPs to probe industry capacity to build new homes

by: Carmen Reichman
  • 06/07/2016
  • 0
MPs to probe industry capacity to build new homes
MPs have launched an inquiry into the housebuilding industry, saying its failure to keep up with demand for new homes has left the country “in a crisis”.

The Communities and Local Government Committee wants to find out whether the industry has the capacity to build enough houses or, if not, what constraints it is facing and how they can be overcome.

The inquiry is expected to hear from the chief executives of major developers alongside ministers and representatives of industry bodies, the Homes and Communities Agency, local authorities and housing associations.

It will also seek to invite small and medium-sized developers and members of the off-site construction and self-build sectors, alongside debt and equity financiers.

The government has previously said 275,000 new affordable homes were needed to ease the UK’s housing shortage.

But figures released in August, showed the government had missed its target for 2015 by more than half, after a mere 131,060 new homes were completed.

The committee now wants information on the structure of the home building industry, whether the number of builders and types of firms available are sufficient to meet housing demand.

It wants to hear about house builders’ business models and how risk and uncertainty affect incentives to expand. It is asking for further evidence on the sustainability, size and skills of the building industry workforce.

The committee said it is also looking to understand why fewer homes are being started and completed than the number of planning permissions being granted and the extent to which current planning approaches cause delays to the building of new homes.

Finally, it wants to hear evidence on the role of development finance and gain ideas on how innovative ways such as self-build and direct commissioning by central government can promote or constrain housing investment.

The inquiry, which launched on 5 July, will accept written submissions until 12 September.

Chair of the committee Clive Betts said: “The capacity of the home building industry is a key factor in housing supply, which is simply not keeping up with demand and has left us in the midst of a crisis.

“The Committee will cast a critical eye over the major home builders, examine the decline of small and medium-sized developers and look closely at the skills shortages, planning delays and finance issues hampering the industry.

“Our wide-ranging inquiry will also explore alternative models, such as self-builds and off-site construction, to see if such innovative approaches to homebuilding can help address the country’s housing needs.”

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