Clearview North September 2014 - Issue 154 - Page 32

INDUSTRYNEWS Build more Social Housing? What does it really mean? Danny Basden examines the implications behind this issue. Six years ago, the New Build part of our industry was in full flow: the work being produced in this sector was there for everyone to see. Some companies were started purely to service this seemingly endless market. Large fabricators up and down the country were seeing up to 80 percent of their production going into the Social Housing market. ‘the work being produced in this sector was there for everyone to see’ Once the prolonged period of austerity started, however, the supply to the Social Housing sector was the first to suffer. The damage it did to some very large, well-established fabricators is there for us all to see. Some of these companies had the foresight to change direction and look at other areas of the market; some, however, had no ‘plan B’ and suffered the consequences. To see a number of national house builders’ mothball half-built sites throughout the length and breadth of the country was ‘Having seen what the consequences were last time around, it would be difficult for fabricators to go down the same road’ disturbing. It is easy to say that the banks were to blame. What it did, in fact, was to focus our industry on the merits of stricter credit control. The need to build more affordable homes across the country is once again on the political agenda. This, in line with the Bank of England outwardly preaching caution about the rising housing market, is a real cause for concern. It is a fact that the country needs to build more houses. The question is, who is going to build them and even more importantly, where is the ‘who is going to build them and even more importantly, where is the money going to come from?’ money going to come from? The government can say they want more affordable housing, but that is only the start. Most new build and social housing projects are fitted with PVCu window and doors. Having seen what the consequences were last time around, it would be difficult for fabricators to go down the same road. While none of the politicians doubt the need for this prolonged period of house building, it will continue to be used as a political football. With the General Election only nine months away, I am sure that this has to be an election pledge and part of a manifesto promise. At least that then gives whoever has to do it a full term in which to make it happen. It is worth remembering that to build 300 houses over two years would take one million people off benefits. This can only be good for the country and the communities where the building will take place. Could the reluctance for fabricators to enter in to this seemingly difficult market place again lead to local authority or housing associations going back to having their own fabrication facilities? Possibly, there may emerge partnerships between fabricators and local authorities or between fabricators and national house builders. This would lead to guaranteed supply for the recipient and less financial exposure for the fabricator. ‘less financial exposure for the fabricator’ One thing is sure: we will not see the housebuilding programme implemented until after the General Election next year. By then, our industry will surely have fully recovered from the austerity period; and we will be stronger and more prudent in all areas of finance. We are always interested in your views. Contact Danny at: danny@clearview-uk.com www.clearview-uk.com 32 SEP 2014 To read more, visit www.clearview-uk.com