Sarah White, Residential Sector Manager for British Gypsum responds to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government latest statistics: ‘House building; new build dwellings, England: December Quarter 2017’.
Some positive statistics have emerged with housebuilding figures getting closer to levels not seen since 2007 as the Government continues to work towards addressing the housing shortage. There was a 16% increase in the number of new homes completed in 2017 when compared to the previous year with figures showing 163,250 new home completions last year as well as 162,180 new build dwelling starts.
It is also positive to see that starts by housing associations were up two percent in Q4 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016. Similarly, completions were 1 percent higher in a bid to deliver the homes the country so badly needs.
However, it is clear that these figures, while enjoying an upward trend, still fall short of the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes a year by 2020. But we always knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. Mark Farmer was quick to highlight in his 2016 Review that maintaining an annual output of 200,000 houses a year would be “physically impossible” if we fail to tackle the skills crisis.
And we haven’t yet even reached that 200,000-output level. Nor have we successfully solved the skills issue. This means there continues to be added pressure on local authorities, developers and SME builders to speed up construction. Yet, the key aim should be to not just build more homes, but to also ensure we are building better homes. The good news is manufacturers are continuing to invest heavily in training and innovations aimed at supporting the industry. We are one of the largest trainers in the industry and are working with a number of colleges throughout the country supporting their apprenticeship programmes. We also run training courses through a national network of Technical Academies and work closely with industry bodies such as the Get It Right Initiative (GIRI), CITB and Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS).
In terms of tackling the speed and quality issue we are already partnering with a number of housebuilders who have recognised the value in raising standards, not just for their own competitive advantage but also for the good of the industry as a whole.