Industry reacts to Labour landslide

Industry reacts to Labour landslide

The construction industry has responded to a landslide victory for the Labour party in the general election, with the FMB stating that the new government ‘offers hope’.

The Labour Party’s historic General Election victory offers an opportunity to tackle the UK’s housing crisis, both in terms of building new homes but also upgrading the ones we have, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, commented: “The election of the new Labour Government offers a fresh start to get Britain building. Labour’s pledge to build 1.5 million new houses over the next five years, and upgrade five million existing homes, are ambitious targets but very much needed if the growing housing crisis is to be addressed. The success of Labour’s housing targets will very much depend on two key issues being addressed. First, the need to reform the planning system to make it easier and quicker to build. Secondly, the urgent need to tackle the skills crisis ensuring we have enough skilled workers in the construction industry to build the homes needed.

“For too long local authority planning departments have been underfunded with the result that planning applications have been held up. Additional funding for planning departments offers hope that the planning process will speed up to deliver the homes that are needed. A long-term training and skills plan to tackle the shortage of construction workers is desperately needed, as is the need for some form of minimum competency level for builders to ensure quality homes are built, and the ones we have are upgraded to the best standards.

“The FMB will work closely with the new Government to help ensure its housing pledges are delivered, and that Britain’s builders can play their part to boost much needed economic growth.”

Ryan Etchells, Chief Commercial Officer, Together said: “Now that there is certainty over the next administration, there is a need for strong leadership to show swift action and delivery on promises made.


“Top of the agenda should be looking at boosting the UK’s housing stock, which has not kept pace with our increasing population to such a level in recent years that we are now in a deepening housing crisis.

“Before the election, Labour vowed to build 1.5million homes over the next parliament – effectively re-instating the previous Government’s 300,000-a-year targets. But to achieve such ambitious numbers we need to see real change.

“We want to see a radical overhaul of the broken  planning system to speed up town hall decision-making by removing red tape and unlocking opportunities for developers. There needs to be a real incentive for SME housebuilders to create quality, modern and affordable homes in the right places to boost local economies.

“Building on brownfield land needs to be a major focus, alongside redeveloping some of the 1.55million properties in England and Wales that sit abandoned and derelict. Together’s own research shows this could deliver over £500billion of much-needed housing.

“The new Government needs to take bold measures to stimulate regeneration of empty and disused property, such as introducing tax breaks. Overall, we need to see much greater collaboration  between Local Authorities and developers to form a faster response to the ever-increasing demand.”

SME Business Support

“Wider support for SMEs to help achieve their expansion plans is essential to boost the coffers of UK Plc. Our research found that businesses in the sector wish to invest an estimated £2.4tn over the next two years yet face significant growth barriers hampering their ambitions.

“Stronger support for our estimated 5.5m SME business in the form of investment breaks and other benefits from local and national Government will help at a time when businesses struggle to access funding. This could be as a result of heightened cautiousness from mainstream banks, who have tightened their lending criteria.

“Stabilising the dire impact of rising energy, labour and running costs is a must in demonstrating that a new Government understands the specific financial and business needs of a sector.”

Roly Ward, Head of Business Development at MEDITE SMARTPLY, comments on the Labour government’s house policy and what needs to be considered: “With the UK General Election result now confirmed, the incoming Government clearly has a lot of items on their agenda – housing being an important one. According to a recent YouGov report, housing was one of the biggest issues voted on in this election, with 18-24-year-olds placing it within the top 20% of their concerns. During the campaign, Labour pledged 1.5 million new houses to help with home shortages, council-owned housing and mortgage rates. Whilst this is a good starting point, it’s clear a lot more needs to be done to tackle the problem.

“Skills shortage in the sector is a major point which the new Government will need to address. The current workforce in construction is down 11%, with approx. 40,000 vacancies and an extra 250,000 workers needed by 2028. The lack of skilled workers to deliver construction needs continues to be the catalyst for using MMC factory-driven housing models. The previous Government has invested approx. £100m to date in these factories already, which current outputs aren’t enough to solve the housing crisis on its own. This result shows that the new Labour Government must consider the skills gap if it wishes to solve the ongoing housing crisis in the UK. Another option could be to look towards our friends on the continent. In Europe, 50% of homes are self-build, with Austria reaching 70% for self-build. If we are to combat the skills shortage in the construction industry, the Government must be open to looking at alternative solutions compared to the traditional methods.

“Another battle ground of the election has been the climate crisis and the UK goal of reaching net zero. According to a report by the Green Building Council, 11% of global CO2 emissions come from building materials and construction; therefore, for the new Government to be taking the UK’s climate goal seriously, they must consider how they build the new houses which have been promised. Timber has already begun to provide itself as a good alternative to less sustainable construction methods. When timber is harvested from sustainably managed forests, it acts as a carbon store, locking away carbon for the duration of the product’s life, as well as the life of any recycled wood products derived from it. At the individual building level, carbon storage is approximately 50% higher in timber-framed homes than in masonry homes. Despite these benefits, a lack of understanding and awareness of timber’s properties as a building material has become a significant challenge, however, 82% of the public supported the use of wood in construction as a strategy to meet the UK’s net zero commitments at the 2020 UK Citizens Assembly – something the new Government need to take seriously and consider.

“The General Election has been an intense battleground over the past six weeks with many different issues front of minds for the public. One thing is evident, though: the housing problem the UK faces is pressing and is likely to only get worse if not addressed. Pair the need to reach net zero with a growing population and clear housing needs to be one of the top priorities for the incoming Government. The ongoing skills shortage, affordability of homes and their sustainability are important, and I hope this Labour Government act on these points as soon as they can.”

The Structural Timber Association (STA) is calling on the incoming Government to honour its election pledges, by prioritising sustainable housing solutions as a means of achieving Net Zero.

Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive Officer of the STA, commented: “The general election has been a significant milestone for the housebuilding sector, with Labour pledging to build 1.5 million homes during the next five years. Now, it’s crucial that Prime Minister Keir Starmer makes good on his election promises by implementing a clear strategy to deal with the housing shortage

“However, it’s important to emphasise that simply building more houses is not enough – this is a unique opportunity to revolutionise the way we build our homes in the UK. Adopting more sustainable construction methods such as structural timber, offers a speedy and clean approach to meeting current and future housing demands.

“What’s more, we urge the new Government to renew the commitment to increasing the use of timber that was established with the Timber in Construction Policy Roadmap, published by DEFRA in December last year. Increasing the use of timber presents a viable solution to both the housing shortage and the UK’s legally binding Net Zero obligations – it’s imperative that the progress we have already made is not lost in the change of Government.”

Carpenter also highlighted that structural timber solutions are well-positioned to deliver on multiple fronts. Construction times are much quicker than traditional methods due to the structures being manufactured offsite, ensuring timely delivery of much-needed homes.

What’s more, offsite assembly of structural timber houses is a clean method of construction, leading to less waste, reduced labour requirements and less disruption on site. Finally, as timber is a renewable and low carbon material, it offers a truly sustainable and long-term solution to the housing shortage, while also contributing to the UK’s Net Zero obligations.

For more information about the STA please visit:

Related posts