Home Contractor's Corner “It’s up to the next government to turn promises into actions”

“It’s up to the next government to turn promises into actions”

With the general election now confirmed for July 4th, James Talman, NFRC CEO, looks at the challenges around housing, a key consideration for any future government…

Above: James Talman, NFRC CEO.

As the nation gears up for the general election on July 4th, and trade and other professional bodies launch their manifestos, I am delighted that NFRC’s Members Survey for the first quarter 2024 provides evidence of a sector which is projecting positive news.

Generally, all key indicators on workload, enquiries and employment are showing signs of green shoots from previous quarters. Whilst one should sound a note of caution that these are early days, why is our sector bucking the trend of general and sector-based construction surveys?

“So whilst sectors such as new housebuilding are still in decline, this is offset by the growth in RMI in the public non-residential and commercial sectors”

Roofing is a broad-based construction activity – nearly every building needs a roof. The survey clearly points to overall demand increasing significantly from our last quarter results, so whilst sectors such as new house building are still in decline, this is offset by the growth in RMI in the public non-residential and commercial sectors.

It is encouraging to note that our Members in the new build housing sector are seeing some signs of improvement on enquiries from a weak end to 2023.

The new build housing sector is crucial to the roofing industry and NFRC Members. It is the sector that has borne the most volatility in both demand and supply for many years.

Recent examples are the dramatic reduction in demand in home building in 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, compounding earlier issues of material shortages and substantial price inflation during and coming out of the pandemic, coupled with wage rises and skills shortages.

The tiered nature of procurement tends to give roofing contractors very little time to plan and invest for the long term. There are recent examples of cost reductions demanded at short notice on roofing contractors by some developers without any consideration of how these can be achieved. The notion of collaborative working goes out the window when the financiers come knocking.

Housing: A key consideration for electorate
The political parties are very aware that housing, or more specifically the lack of, is a key consideration for the electorate.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner recently addressed the UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF) event in Leeds, setting out in more detail about the party’s policy including the development of New Towns inspired by garden suburbs like Hale in Manchester, Roundhay in Leeds, and the Garden City project. She also highlighted a local housing recovery plan, giving Mayors the tools to deliver homes in their areas, revitalising brownfield first, unlocking disused grey belt land for housebuilding and setting tough new conditions for releasing that land.

The Conservative’s manifesto commits to renewing the Affordable Homes Programme but is not specific on a funding pledge or affordable housing targets. There is a renewed commitment to the previously announced Towns Fund, which will invest £3.6bn in regeneration in 100 places across the UK.

The Liberal Democrats are focussed on a national target for building social homes, aiming for 150,000 a year by the end of the next parliament, including new powers for local authorities to build their own social and affordable housing. They also propose a ten-year emergency programme to insulate Britain’s homes as well as new standards to ensure new homes are warm, cheap to heat and produce minimal emissions.

The SNP aim to deliver 100,000 affordable homes in Scotland by 2032, whilst Sinn Féin plan to build 21,000 social and affordable homes in Northern Ireland.

“The main parties state they will work with the developers and large housebuilders to achieve their ambitions. They tend to forget that the actual construction and fit-outs of homes is done by specialist trades that must be part of that discussion”

So plenty of promises from these and no doubt other parties in tackling the housing crisis. The main parties state they will work with the developers and large housebuilders to achieve their ambitions. They tend to forget that the actual construction and fit-outs of homes is done by specialist trades that must be part of that discussion. Shortages in any of these activities impacts the other at some point.

Recently it was pleasing that the NHBC invited specialist trades including NFRC and other builder associations to roundtable forums with Jo Churchill, Minister for Employment, and Labour’s Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow Minister for Skills and Education, to discuss skills needs to deliver the homes so desperately required. These future homes demand higher skill levels, as from 2025 the aim is to produce 75-80% less carbon emissions than homes built under the current Building Regulations.

By having this open dialogue, the housing industry supply chain can work together to overcome its challenges and obstacles. It’s up to the next Government to turn promises into actions to build a sustainable home building demand and help to end its volatility.

www.nfrc.co.uk

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More