Fixing our broken housing market

By Ben Brocklesby, sales and marketing director at Origin

Anyone working within the housing industry will have had one eye on last month’s Government Housing White Paper. We, at Origin, were particularly keen to see what made the cut and what was missed out, analysing what affect it was going to have on the housing market.

There is no doubt that the white paper marks a step in the right direction for the future of the UK’s housing industry. It is hugely positive to see the government lending support to local authorities and developers to resolve Britain’s housing crisis.

Many of the issues and challenges identified by the government were discussed at length by leading industry experts during Origin’s Homes of the Future roundtable, which brought together housebuilders, architects, developers and economists to discuss the changes that needed to be made to support growth.

While the White Paper promises to support housebuilders, and resolve the issue of skills shortages in the construction industry, supporting British manufacturers is not mentioned within the government’s plan.

Whether suppling bricks or bifold doors, manufacturers need to be geared up to support the new demand for building products. In addition, greater emphasis should be put on the importance of specifying products ‘made in Britain’, with a focus on the quality of new homes, not just quantity.

We’ve spoken at length about the trend in recent years for homeowners to improve their homes rather than move. It isn’t uncommon for homeowners to have to wait months until these improvements can be made, as good tradespeople are in strong demand. We’d be interested to see whether a focus on building new homes affects the availability of skilled workers for home improvements. Will this just mean the skills shortage moves away from new build, towards renovation projects instead?

While the white paper has allayed some fears about the future of the UK’s housing market, it didn’t completely set our minds at ease. We, as an industry, need to make sure that we ‘buy British’ wherever possible, facilitating the UK’s economy as we go. Rather than rely on cheap imports, we must give back to homegrown businesses in order to close the loop on the British housing market.