Hudson Contract asked to assist Government House Building Review

Hudson Contract asked to assist Government House Building Review

11th June 2018 | Hudson Contract

Last month in eNews, Hudson Contract Chairman David Jackson focused on the Letwin Review, which is investigating why major house builders take so long to build homes on large sites once planning permission has been given.

“Within a matter of days, we were asked whether we could assist with the Review,” David Jackson says.  “Sir Oliver’s team asked if they could examine our pay statistics data.”

Hudson Contract was contacted by email: “…we are interested in recent pay trends in key housebuilding trades, particularly bricklayers. As official data focuses on employees, it has serious limitations in this sector. Your site looks like a great alternative source.”

“We were happy to oblige,” David Jackson says.  “We have been collating our pay trends in the current format since 2014, so we have provided the Review with more than three years of data that can be used to compare and contrast with the information provided by the Office for National Statistics on employees.”

In March, Sir Oliver wrote to Chancellor Philip Hammond and former Housing Minister Sajid Javid (now Home Secretary) outlining his approach, which included site visits, round table discussions and investigative trips to Germany and the Netherlands. 

The letter also reveals reasons given by those who have been questioned about the time taken to get from planning permission to the sale of new homes:

  • Lack of skilled labour
  • Materials shortages
  • Limited capital
  • Logistical constraints
  • Utility companies taking a long time to complete their installations
  • Land remediation issues
  • Provision of local transport infrastructure

“The use of freelance builders is key to ensuring cost-effective construction, as Professor Andrew Burke’s recent report into the economic role of freelance workers in construction clearly demonstrated,” David Jackson says.  “But skills shortage?  Although that is true in some parts of the country, I personally do not believe it is the reason for delays in building and selling the homes this country needs.”

It seems Sir Oliver is also unconvinced by the reasons he has been given to date.  His letter hints he believes the ‘supply constraint’ is created by the rate at which house builders believe they can sell their new homes in a specific market without dropping prices and indicates he might consider that large sites are ‘packaged’ to encourage rival developers to build faster in the face of competition.

David Jackson adds: “The Letwin Reviews draft report is due out at the end of the month. I look forward to reading it and sharing the update with our clients.”

Sir Oliver Letwin’s letter can be viewed here

Download Professor Andrew Burke’s Report here

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