London should diversify its suppliers, says HBA

Posted On: 
1st September 2017

SMEs train two-thirds of construction apprentices, employ local workers within a fifteen-mile radius of their head offices and retain two out of every three trainees. 

On 31 August 2017, the planning committee of the Greater London Assembly (GLA) published a report titled: “Designed, sealed, delivered: The contribution of offsite manufactured homes to tackling London’s housing crisis”. It outlines how offsite manufactured housing (OSM) can be vital to addressing the capital’s housing crisis.

The report identifies benefits to OSM such as: new industry career pathways, homes built more quickly, innovative design, as well as cost and energy efficiencies. It also contains six recommendations that the mayor should follow in order to galvanize the sector. These are set out in five topics: leadership, strategic guidance, funding, GLA land, and procurement.

The House Builder Association (HBA) welcomes this report and believes embracing modern methods of construction will benefit the industry and help address the housing crisis. However, the HBA questions whether the GLA took those recommendations from London’s locally-employing SME housebuilders, who have been requesting backing for almost two decades.

Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the HBA, commented: “SMEs train two-thirds of construction apprentices, employ local workers within a fifteen-mile radius of their head offices and retain two out of every three trainees. Yet, despite proving our worth as the innovative players, SME housebuilders only deliver a small proportion of homes in London – a city with an acute construction skills crisis. The mayor should enable the sector that already delivers intrinsic value for the city, and not one which once again looks set to be dominated by the largest housebuilders.

Wojtulewicz continued: “There is a historical context the GLA should appreciate. London once built an equal proportion of flats to houses but – twenty years on - only 15% of its new housing stock consists of houses. At the same time, no significant annual increase of supply took place and housing prices have increased exponentially as a consequence. With SMEs seeing their market share drop from 50% to 15%, is it any wonder that London’s skills crisis is matched by a lack in the supply of family and affordable homes? We welcome the GLA’s report but unless it focuses on diversifying suppliers as well as supply, London will continue feeding the housing crisis.”