Delivering affordable homes has been a considerable challenge to developers and affordable housing providers alike. Just 6,463 homes were built in England for social rent between 2017 and 2018, down 80 percent from the decade before, according to government figures.
This figure pales in comparison to the 145,000 new affordable homes, that the Town and Country Planning Association estimate is required.
To meet the growing demand, affordable housing providers should now switch their attention to the modern methods of construction (MMC), according to The Housing Forum’s new report.
We partnered with The Housing Forum to produce the report, titled ‘MMC for affordable housing developers: A Housing Forum guide to overcoming challenges and barriers’, which outlines the benefits that MMC can offer to affordable housing providers.
We feel passionately to supply the homes the country so desperately needs, we must provide innovative and cost-effective solutions.
The downward trend in social housing stock being built has had a huge impact on communities up and down the country, which means that finding a collaborative solution to the affordable housing crisis has become the number one priority.
The goal of the report is to spread awareness of MMC and to educate affordable housing providers on how MMC can help overcome hurdles around procurement, design, and delivery.
The report sets out several key drivers of MMC, including the need for more, higher quality and safer homes. It also notes that the construction skills shortage has led to a productivity concerns, leaving a gap in the workforce that MMC can fill. Finally, it suggests the construction industry must now modernise in line with the technological advances that other major industries have capitalised on.
“If ever there was a time and a need to embrace more productive construction methods, that time is now,” the report states, and with a deficit of over 110,000 homes a year, it is increasingly clear that an industry-wide, radical transformation is required. Given that offsite manufacturing is twice as fast, and does not rely on an aging and unproductive workforce it is a form of housebuilding that is surely going in one direction.
The report guides affordable housing developers away from commonly held industry myths such as those that claim offsite manufacturing is a more expensive alternative to traditional construction. Instead, the report rightly points out that in the long run, modular homes benefit from ‘lower lifecycle costs’, earlier access to revenue streams in the form of rents and sales, and the financial benefits of a higher-quality product.
As part of the report, our record-breaking deal with Places for People in May acted as a core case study on how creating lasting strategic partnerships can unlock future capacity and deliver high-quality, sustainable and affordable homes throughout Britain. Building long-term strategic partnerships such as ours will be vital for the offsite sector to succeed. Establishing these partnerships provides the supply chain with the certainty of demand and costs, and at a time when we are scaling-up the sector, this clarity makes an enormous difference.
Our ability to deliver our homes to small sites was also noted in a second case study in the report. Outlining the benefits of offsite manufacturing through our work with social housing provider RHP, the report demonstrates how quicker delivery times result in faster income streams and reduced disruption to local communities, minimising risk and maximising the returns of lower-funded housing providers.
Ultimately, the report calls for developers to change their mindsets on MMC. But to do so, we must continue to collaborate. Only then can we demonstrate the capabilities that MMC has in steering housebuilding into the future. By working together, we can deliver affordable homes that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK need. And through reports such as this, as well as collaborating and partnering with affordable housing developers, we are doing just that.