Govt departments to prioritise offsite manufacturing
The government is to prioritise use of offsite manufacturing and other modern methods of construction to improve the cost effectiveness, productivity and speed of construction delivery, the chancellor has announced.
In his Autumn Budget speech Philip Hammond said the state will use its purchasing power to drive adoption of the technology.
“Building on progress made to date, the Department for Transport, the Department of Health, the Department for Education, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Defence will adopt a presumption in favour of offsite construction by 2019 across suitable capital programmes, where it represents best value for money,” the chancellor said.
Hammond also announced £15.3bn of new funding to boost housing delivery, meaning a total of £44bn of investment over five years.
Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast, author of the government-commissioned construction review Modernise or Die, and a strong advocate of offsite manufacturing, welcomed the Budget announcement.
“Hammond’s Budget has rightly targeted the construction industry’s productivity and skills crisis alongside other more expected land and planning-led measures,” he said.
“The government imposing a presumption towards MMC on the bulk of its direct capital spend programme is very welcome as it will be ‘market making’ if combined with consistent spend profiling. This will ultimately help to develop a new type of supply chain which can serve the wider construction sectors, including homebuilding.
“The government has rightly recognised that more work needs to be done in the short term on the role of MMC in the wider homebuilding sector. Much of this is already starting to take shape in the background pursuant to its Housing White Paper pledges.”
The Budget was welcomed by Bjorn Conway, CEO of Ilke homes, the offsite housing partnership between Keepmoat and modular specialist Elliott.
“Ilke homes welcomes Philip Hammond’s commitment to invest £44bn in housing and to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s,” he said. “It is hugely important that the UK adopts innovative construction techniques in order to ensure these targets are met.
“While there is no ‘silver bullet’, the use of precision manufacturing processes will go a long way towards delivering affordable new homes quickly and at a low cost.
“Modular construction techniques will maximise the number of homes that councils can deliver within restrained budgets. We believe the chancellor’s Budget is a positive step forward towards addressing the UK’s chronic housing shortage, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure that providing homes for the people who need it most remains a priority.”