Call for extension to December completion cut-off comes as part of construction industry’s post-covid recovery plan

The government should extend the December cut-off date for completion of homes funded through the current round of the Help to Buy programme, according to a post-coronavirus rescue plan published today.

The plans come from the Construction Leadership Council (CLC)’s covid-19 task force, which has laid out a series of proposals aimed at safeguarding businesses which have already begun to shed jobs as a result of the crisis.

construction site

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The CLC says the first phase of the initiative will run for three months

The CLC is an industry-govenment board consisting of representatives of all corners of the construction industry.

In addition to the call for the Help to Buy extension, the plan said the govrnment should accelerate the existing cladding remediation programme and spend £4bn of housing guarantees promised under a 2017 programme but thus far uncommitted.

It added that govrenment interventions should be designed to embed net zero carbon 2030-2050 targets in planned housing developments.

The Home Builders’ Federation will lead on developing the housing recovery under the plan, which also covrs the infrastructure, commercial and repair and maintenance sectors of construction. 

The document said the HBF will develop an “action plan” for restarting and sustaining the housing market and activity in the home building sector, working with MHCLG. This will include, it said, the development of “proposals for demand side interventions to maintain and accelerate activity in the market at future fiscal events (Budget/Spending Review), including how these can support the use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) to increase housing quality, zero carbon and resource efficiency and output and embed building safety considerations.”

Called the Roadmap to Recovery, the broader plan for the whole has three phases which will be carried out over the next two years.

The first is the restart phase, which will run for the next three months, and aims to increase output, maximise employment and minimise disruption.

The second is the reset phase, which it wants to be implemented between the three and 12 month marks of recovery. Under this phase, the industry will be asked to increase demand, up productivity and strengthen the supply chain.

The final phase, called reinvent, will run for the second year of the recovery and will look at delivering better value and improving collaboration and partnership.

The CLC has laid out detailed plans for each stage of all three phases with individual tasks allocated to different groups, organisations and parts of the sector, including the business department, private sector clients and the CITB.

It has also laid out a timeline for its next steps saying its next major task will be establishing four working groups for infrastructure, housing, repair, maintenance and innovation (RMI) and local, social and commercial infrastructure and construction, which will be up and running by the middle of this month.

The leads for the four working groups are the Infrastructure Client Group for infrastructure, the Home Builders Federation for housing, the Federation of Master Builders for RMI and the Association for Consultancy and Engineering for social and commercial infrastructure and construction.

The CLC structure and operations will be revised to oversee the implementation of the recovery plan by 1 July, while the plan itself will be reviewed and adapted by 1 September to allow the industry to move into its second phase.

The task force was established to provide focus on industry efforts to combat the impact of coronavirus, including developing Site Operating Procedures and addressing shortages of product availability.

Construction Leadership Council joint chair Andy Mitchell said: “I am delighted by the way that the industry has collaborated at pace to develop this plan, targeting those interventions that will help the industry get back on its feet as quickly as possible.

“We hope that everyone will take the opportunity to read the plan and consider the part you can play in its delivery.”

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, said the business leaders group welcomed the strategy and called for the government to “commit” to it. He said: “A major programme of investment in infrastructure and housing is needed to help the UK economy build back better from the coronavirus pandemic and accelerate action on our long-term challenges of climate change and regional growth.

“This strategy sets out clear workstreams that government and industry should commit to.”