116.There is significant interest in the benefits and opportunities of MMC from across the homebuilding industry but those benefits have been known for many years and to-date, only a small proportion of homes are being constructed using modern techniques. Significant barriers remain and until they are overcome, take-up will continue to be low.
117.We will not reach 300,000 net additions annually by the mid-2020s unless MMC are used in a significant proportion of homes. MMC can help to overcome some of the constraints that limit homebuilding but should be used in conjunction with traditional methods to build the homes this country needs. Some homes will be built entirely using MMC, some using traditional methods and some using a mixture of both. Current trials into innovative methods of construction are key to understanding what works well and ensuring good quality homes are constructed to last into the future.
118.Further action is needed now to overcome the problems of the construction industry and increase capacity in homebuilding. In the financial year 2017–18 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spent £7,563 million on “Fixing the broken housing market” but only a small percentage of this seems to have been spent on MMC developments. To track how much the Ministry is spending on MMC specifically, it should report annually the total amount allocated to MMC developments across all its different funding streams, including generic schemes such as Help to Buy. It should also monitor how many homes are built using MMC, in order to evaluate the impact of this spending. The Government will need to indicate the measures they are taking to ensure sufficient use of MMC is being used to deliver the housebuilding target.
119.The Government has taken welcome steps to overcome the barriers to take-up of MMC, such as convening the MHCLG Joint Working Group on MMC, led by Mark Farmer to identify ways to provide quality assurance to industry actors. Across Government several programmes and initiatives have been implemented that can be utilised to promote MMC, including the introduction of the new T Level in design surveying and planning, the work of the Transforming Construction Programme and Homes England’s Accelerated Construction Programme. It is crucial governmental bodies and departments take a collaborative approach to supporting MMC so that programmes complement each other and deliver an effective strategy to increase take-up. Fergus Harradence from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy told us “it is very hard to argue against the point that more should have been done years ago to encourage the use of these technologies across the industry.” We agree. Now is the time for consistent action to: give clarity on standards for MMC homes; provide certainty of demand for the supply chain; introduce a bigger social housing programme and substantially increase funding for MMC homes. We must stimulate a lasting increase in the use of MMC to help deliver the homes this country vitally needs.
Published: 3 July 2019