MD Ian Anfield’s verdict on the media headlines about our industry

MD Ian Anfield’s verdict on the media headlines about our industry

21st September 2023 | Ian Anfield

If you keep up with the news, you will have seen some of the doom-laden headlines about the challenges facing construction. Here are just some examples from recent weeks:

  • House prices have fallen at the fastest speed since 2009
  • Construction companies have gone out of business at the highest rate in a decade
  • Britain’s biggest house builder Barratt has cut construction targets as storm clouds mount
  • Planning approval for new housing projects is at its lowest quarterly level in more than 15 years
  • Housing associations expect a 22 per cent decline in the number of new affordable homes built.

On the flip side, lenders are cutting the price of mortgages, the Bank of England has said we are “much nearer” to peak interest rates and more first-time buyers are entering the housing market.

In addition, the government is hoping to scrap the “nutrient neutrality” rules blocking housebuilding schemes across the country (despite a recent Labour-led rebellion against the move); there are more incentives for regenerating brownfield land and it is easier for developers to change the use of commercial and retail buildings.

We can also expect more public spending on school buildings following the crumbling concrete crisis. If you cast your mind back to 2010, the Conservative-led coalition cancelled Labour’s Building Schools for the Future scheme because of “massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy” and cut capital spending on school buildings. Labour defended its programme and compared the Conservatives to “cowboy builders”.

It reminds me of the three little pigs. The Tories want to build out of straw. Labour wants to build out of sticks. Some so-called industry leaders want to build out of a box. They all want to be gobbled up by the wolf.
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