Government ‘playing catch-up’ as demand continues to outstrip supply

Housing Minister Esther McVey reinforces her support in using MMC to solve UK’s housing crisis.

Housing Minister Esther McVey

Speaking at the opening of MIPIM UK summit in London, Housing Minister Esther McVey said there was a need to “make the most of everything on offer” to build the homes that this country needs.

As reported by 24housing, McVey has been vocal in her focus on investing in technology in housebuilding – including Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

She recently announced the launch of an MMC ‘centre of excellence’ in the North – pitched to potentially create a new network of people, connected in their aim to boost the use of the technology while sharing ideas and future uses.

In an address to delegates today (5th November), McVey said that an increased investment in time and energy in modern technology and fast-paced infrastructure will “open the opportunity to change things for the better.”

“In 2015 industry estimated that 10% of homes were built using modern methods, equivalent to 15,000 homes.

“So, to reach 300,000 homes per year we need to build at least 80,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, on top of what we are delivering today, so there is much more we can do in this space to add to the traditional housing build market.

“It is for this reason I want to set this ambitious goal here today with you, that the UK becomes the world leader in Modular Buildings within the next 10 years, with safety, quality and choice and precision at its heart”, McVey said.

As reported by 24housing, findings from the first phase of Grenfell public inquiry raised the stakes for Phase 2 in citing “compelling evidence” of the tower being too dangerous to live in.

With her 10-year modular ambition in mind, the Housing Minister said that she is keen to ensure that along with quantity comes safety – building homes that adhere to the highest safety standards.

“It is vital that after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower we all learn the most important lessons on safety”, she said.

“This is why we will be taking forward all 53 of Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations from her independent review, and we are bringing forward legislation at the earliest opportunity to make sure there is a new and modernised regulatory regime for building safety and construction products.”

Reinforcing ambitions, McVey emphasises a government commitment to:

  • Deploying digital techniques at all phases of design to deliver better, more certain results during construction
  • Using off-site manufacturing technologies to help to minimise the waste, inefficiency and delays that affect onsite construction, and enable production in parallel with preparing the site
  • Shifting focus away from the upfront costs of construction to the costs of a building across its life cycle, to consider energy costs

“That’s why the government is investing up to £170m of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to the ‘Transforming Construction’ programme over the next 3 years.

“Because if we are to solve the housing crisis, we need to not just open the door to new skills and technologies, but to literally knock it down, to make sure we are providing the homes and communities people want to live in and remove the obstacles that are in their way.

“If we invest in infrastructure, we are also investing in housing, and new opportunities so that communities can thrive” she added.

McVey’s speech in full can be found here.

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