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Will Labour Succeed in their New Housebuilding Targets?

by Ed Griffiths

The dust has settled following the General Election in the United Kingdom, with Labour settling in for five years. The construction industry, specifically the residential sector, has been promised five years of change. Can we hope for the best?

Labour promises 1.5 million new homes in new manifesto

Looking back at both Conservative and Labour manifestos, housebuilding targets was a key point in both parties’ goals. Labour is targeting 1.5 million new homes over a five-year term while the Conservatives were targeting 1.6 million. Regardless of which won, both parties targets require an average of 300,000 homes built per year – is this realistic?

Over the last 20 years the peak number of homes built was 215,000 in 2008 and an average well below that due to much lower levels between 2019 and 2020. In simple terms, either party would need to hit a 39% increase in output every year during their term against the best achievement in the last 20 years.

Skilled labour shortage from Brexit affecting housebuilding

The numbers above are unrealistic – Brexit has impacted the availability of skilled and unskilled labour. Further to that there has been poor uptake of apprentice schemes meaning the aging workforce continues to dwindle without fresh blood in the industry. Borne out of ONS data tracking the total number of people employed in the construction industry which has seen a ~400,000 reduction since 2019.

The industry needs to ensure apprentice schemes are fit for purpose, delivering workers with the skills aligned with the industries current and future needs as well as actively engaging with the Government about investments required to stimulate growth and legislation that can bring about a workforce to deliver targets and growth.

New cabinet to support housebuilding targets

Matthew Pennycook is the new Housing Minister, the 10th Housing Minister in the last five years. The previous nine barely managed an eight-month term each – is it any wonder that output has fallen short of requirements with such fragmented attention?

Hopefully Matthew Pennycook can bring about significant change.

Early signs are positive with Chancellor Rachel Reeves reintroducing:

  • Minimum housebuilding targets
  • Reviewing green belt boundaries
  • Employing 300 more planning officers
  • And reforming the national planning policy framework

Could this be 5 years of positive reform that construction needs?

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About the author

Picture of Ed Griffiths

Ed Griffiths

Ed's background includes a Masters degree in Psychology, which is where his love for research and data stems from. Ed has been working for the last 14 years in the FMCG Industry helping clients and retailers grow their businesses by leveraging data. Ed was also a regular on the presenter circuit, presenting at national and international conferences to help demonstrate the role data can play in organisations day to day activities.

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