Government Housing Minister Dominic Raab has vowed to make reforms to housebuilding to enable small construction companies to compete on a more even playing field with the big housebuilders and to increase the number of affordable homes, removing the ‘stigma’ attached to social housing.
Big companies dominating construction industry
Over recent years, the major construction companies and developers have capitalised on their ability to purchase land sites and wait until regional prices have gone up before starting construction; a tactic which Mr Raab said “had effectively resulted in smaller businesses withering on the vine”. The building industry has been dominated by a relatively small number of large companies having control over the market.
Raab said: “It’s time to break big business’s grip on the building industry because small firms have been ‘eviscerated’ and consumers are getting a bad deal because of the high cost of housing. The industry needs extra infrastructure to support new developments as well as extra money spent on new housing, to boost the availability of affordable housing across the country.”
Factory-made homes cause less disruption to communities
Raab said: “The factory made model reduces costs and limits the disruption to local communities that large construction projects cause.”
Further plans to help smaller building companies take a larger share of the market are underway with Raab supporting plans to digitise planning permission records and viable land registry. The thinking behind this is to shift the balance towards smaller firms lacking the infrastructure and resources to scour the country for viable housing sites.
Championing housing opportunities for the aspiring underdog
Raab said: “I have always believed capitalism is for the little guy, the worker, the buccaneering start-up and ultimately for the consumer. Recent figures indicate that home ownership has ‘inched up’ since remaining stagnant for 15 years, but I want to see the number of new homes delivered rise year on year because that is the way we will get to our target of 300,000 new homes being built each year by 2025. Above all, whether it’s Generation Rent or the young millennials aspiring to own their own home, my main objective is to increase the opportunity for people to buy, rent or take advantage of a shared ownership scheme.”
Next month a Green Paper will be produced following the Grenfell Tower disaster which is set to change the attitude towards social housing. Raab added: “The myth of the social tenant as welfare scrounger is not only offensive and pejorative, it’s totally wrong. These are hardworking people with aspirations; they can be professionals, self-employed, who just happen to live in areas where house prices are beyond their means. I believe that myself and other politicians need to start talking about them in the context of aspirational underdog.”