Our Daily Roundup of Inside Housing's Digital Housing Week – Day 3

  25 JUNE, 2020
day 3 digital housing week inside housing

Here is what we learnt on day 3 of Inside Housing's Digital Housing Week (22nd - 26th June 2020). 


What is the impact on social housing supply since building has stalled and what will capacity look like post Covid-19?

Session attended by BD and Market Insight Manager Paul Williams

  • The construction sector has experienced a 15-20% productivity hit and is not expected to recover fully, until 2022, with labour availability being a major factor, particularly if a hard Brexit occurs.
  • The housing sector is seen as leading in terms of professionalism in construction and the Construction Leadership Council is looking for other parts of construction to follow this example.
  • There is a significant focus on demonstrating MMC is both efficient and cost effective, but acceptance that there is a lack of confidence in the product.
  • Joined up policy making between disposal of public land and the need for more affordable housing can result more affordable homes being delivered. The London Mayors, Land Fund has already demonstrated this approach.

Key messages from Head of Partnerships, Peter Hordley and Housing Partnership Manager Sue Minkely

  • The value of the construction industry to the country – every £1 spent in construction has a value of £3 in the wider economy (Ann Bentley, Rider Levett Bucknall).
  • The crisis has accelerated the introduction of some real, potentially long-lasting changes & benefits, such as: Creative use of technology with virtual diagnostic inspections, positive resident engagement & support – particularly for the most vulnerable, and greater online engagement with residents about how services should be delivered (Jennifer Ryans, Housing Ombudsman Service).
  • The crisis has forced us to make changes to the way that services are delivered giving the sector the space to reshape delivery completely, push through strategic improvements and make 2020/21 the year of real change for the better (Rob Morley, KWL).
  • The greater use of technology is the key both with communicating with residents - providing training via webinars, using devices to diagnose faults, and minimising time on site etc - all of which is expected to continue going forward.

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THE GOVERNMENT STEPS IN TO SAFEGUARD 53,000 NEW AFFORDABLE HOMES

On Monday 6th July, the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that the Government will be extending the current Affordable Homes Programme until March 2023. Delays in the Construction Industry Construction on new homes to be built under the Government’s £9 billion scheme originally needed to be underway by March 2022. However, today’s announcement means that housing associations and councils have a year longer to begin building these homes. The extension applies to homes which are in contract to be delivered by the current scheme. The Government has made the move in light of unavoidable delays in the construction industry due to coronavirus, where the building of 53,000 new affordable homes has stalled, putting their eventual completion at risk. Providing Flexibility to Councils Mr. Jenrick said that this measure will give housing associations and councils more flexibility “to help them deliver affordable homes.” He added that “building the homes the country needs is central to the mission of this Government.” This latest announcement follows last week’s package of measures, including confirmation that the new £12 billion Affordable Homes Programme will support up to 180,000 new homes, including for shared ownership and social rent. The programme will lead to a further £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing. Full details can be seen on the Government website.

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