Osborne's dreams of new affordable housing could crumble

Article taken from City A.M, 26th November 2015

According to specialist recruiter Randstad CPE, the UK housebuilding sector needs a workforce of nearly 2m to keep up with housing demands.

Owen Goodhead, managing director of Randstad CPE, said: “Our analysis shows the vast gap in the capacity of the UK workforce to build homes, and the need for places to live for a growing population.”

He continued: “A joined-up approach would explicitly connect the admirable drive for more apprenticeships with a shortage of homes. In order to tackle any credible amount of houses being built before the end of the decade, apprenticeships will be as valuable as bricks.” 

The Chancellor’s announcements have come at a time when construction is already experiencing problems with an ageing workforce, with 12 per cent of construction workers already aged 60 or over and 4.3 per cent considering retirement.

Goodhead also pointed out that the plans to build 400,000 new affordable homes outlined in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement represent a supply of only 16 months, as the country needs 300,000 new houses a year.

“The numbers signal a welcome intention to tackle housebuilding – but these figures need to be examined further,” Goodhead added. “A cumulative building effort on this scale would be far too small by the end of the decade.”

Other housing-related announcements in yesterday's Autumn Statement included plans to sell off some of the country's older prisons to make room for new houses, a new London Help to Buy scheme for would-be homeowners and a three per cent hike in stamp duty for those purchasing a second home or a buy-to-let property.