Industry Intel

January Industry News Headline Round-Up; Property, Environmental Health & Housing.

Tina Ledger

Graphic Designer

Jul 27, 2022

It’s a new year, and there are new developments in the housing industry!

This month, Michael Gove has made several announcements regarding how cladding will be removed from high-risk buildings, placing the responsibility for funding firmly on the shoulders of building and cladding companies.

This month has also seen new developments in social housing as Scotland pledged more money to fight homelessness and potholes caused a record number of people to call the RAC. Read on to find out more about the developments in the housing industry.

Potholes at a Record High

The RAC has reported over 10,000 pothole-related breakdowns over the last year, the highest total since 2018. This is equivalent to around twenty-seven every day, a massive 19% increase since 2020.

Head of Roads Policy for the RAC, Nicholas Lyes, has stated that the rot has set in on country roads, causing many people to break down due to wear and tear caused by excessive amounts of potholes. He also said that the problem is entirely avoidable with better road maintenance, and leaving the problem would cause more expense in the future.

In October, the Local Government Association revealed that funding for road maintenance had been cut by £400m. Calculations show that the reduction in funding is the equivalent of fixing 9.5m potholes.

For more information, click here.

Holiday Rentals Affecting Local Communities

New research has shown that there has been a 1,000% increase in short term lets in the last six years. This recent surge is crippling the residential home market, especially in popular holiday spots around the country. Many argue that these properties should be available for local families on social housing waiting lists.

CPRE, The Countryside Charity, calls for a higher council tax on second homes and criticises that much-needed houses are sat empty for a majority of the year. At its current rate, the many families needing housing would take 121 years to clear.

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Deadline on Cladding Crisis

Developers have until early March this year to draw up a plan to remove unsafe cladding on buildings from eleven to eighteen metres. Failure to remove the cladding could result in legal action or restrictions to future funding.

In a letter to the industry, secretary for levelling up Michael Gove asked companies to make financial contributions to a fund that would cover the cost of removing the unsafe cladding, which is currently estimated to be around £4 billion. He also commended some developers for making financial provisions and urged others to do the same.

For more information, click here.

Scotland Announces More Funding to Tackle Homelessness

The Scottish government has granted an extra £16m to help the homeless population move into settled homes. This takes the total investment in rehousing to £53.5m and aims to help as many people as the possible move from the safety net of temporary accommodation to permanent homes.

The funding will be awarded over the next two financial years and exemplifies new responsibilities that will help to prevent homelessness across Scotland.

For more information, click here.

Councils Selected for Planning Schemes

Eleven councils have been selected for a new pilot scheme that will encourage people to engage with the planning system. Seven councils have been awarded £45,000, and four have been given £50,000 to give residents extra support in creating a Neighbourhood Plan.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher stated that as local people know their areas best, this scheme will empower them to get involved with community planning that will influence the future of their areas for the best. Councils that have received the funding include Leeds City Council, Middlesbrough Council, and Bassetlaw District Council. Those awarded the Bidding Fund are Birmingham City Council, Chorley Council, Middlesbrough Council, and St. Helens Council.

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Committee to Assess Housebuilders' Responsibility for Cladding Costs

A committee is inquiring whether housebuilders should bear all of the responsibility for paying for the removal of potentially dangerous cladding. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government has recently appealed to housebuilders to contribute to a £4bn fund that will cover the removal of cladding from buildings across the UK.

This is a change from earlier this month in which Gove scrapped a plan to force leaseholders to take out personal loans to pay for the cost of the cladding repairs needed. However, many housebuilders say that they should not bear the cost alone and share it with developers, contractors, manufacturers, and the government.

Many people have criticised Gove’s plan, saying that there is a lack of transparency about its implementation. Issues have also been raised around what will happen if the housing industry refuses any voluntary contributions and how this may affect the social housing programme.

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Cladding Manufacturers to Contribute to Remediation Fund

Michael Gove has told cladding manufacturers that they must contribute to remediation costs or face bans on selling their products. In a recent letter made public earlier this month, Gove stated that the contribution from cladding and insulation companies must be significant and that a funding commitment is expected by early March.

Gove has also stated that he is willing to use the regulatory framework to limit companies from selling their products within the UK. This move has been framed as a window of opportunity to restore confidence and secure a significant contribution from this sector.

A committee has been formed to inquire into the funding plan and assess what the funding plan should include.

For more information, click here.

Construction Industry Faces a Seven Month Wait for Roof Tiles

The Construction Leadership Council has issued an update that has revealed extensive wait times on many building products. Not only do concrete roof tiles face a seven-month delay, but brick, blocks, and PVC products remain in short supply throughout the UK.

Although some supply issues have eased slightly, the demand for many items is still high, and there are concerns about the lack of domestic haulage to transport supplies to where they need to be. However, the industry’s position is reportedly better than three to four months ago.

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Online Service Created to Track Remediation of High-Risk Buildings

The government has recently launched a new service to allow those living in tower blocks to see the status of their buildings application to the Building Safety Fund. This service is designed to speed up the removal of unsafe cladding from high-risk buildings, which forces building owners to be more transparent and shows who has not taken action to make their building safe.

Many building owners have already engaged with the Building Safety Fund, a £5.1bn fund to remediate buildings with dangerous cladding. However, a minority has not yet come forward, which may lead to delays and unnecessary costs for stakeholders.

Residents of buildings that will have their cladding removed will receive a unique code, allowing them to see the progress of their building’s application. They will also add pressure to building owners if action is still necessary.

The Secretary of State will be reviewing the programme ahead of the next stage of funding, which is expected early this year.

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Social Housing Standards Set to Rise

Social housing residents will be better protected as part of a new review. This move from the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Eddie Hughes, is part of a plan to ensure that all residents are listened to and complaints are dealt with swiftly and effectively.

The review will include assessing qualifications and training that will drive up standards in the industry and see that all staff are educated in dealing with complaints and any issues that arise. The government also urges social housing residents to come forward with their say and suggest what changes they would like to see.

This move comes after thousands of social housing residents felt that their landlords failed to treat them with the proper courtesy and respect after the Grenfell Tower tragedy. In the latest English Housing Serey Report, 59% of social housing residents who complained about their housing were not happy with the response to their complaints. The rise in standards will help to improve both customer service and safety for those living in social housing.

For more information, click here.

London Air Pollution Traffic Scheme is the Largest in Europe

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is now the largest zone of its kind in Europe, having expanded to cover more than four million people. The ULEZ, which was expanded in October 2021, has helped reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide transport emissions by 30% in 2021 and is projected to save the NHS £5bn by 2050.

Experts such as Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah now say that the next step is to expand the ULEZ to the M25, protecting the population of London from harmful pollutants in the air. Mark Watt, director of C40 cities, has stated that the ULEZ is a symbol of what needs to be taken worldwide to tackle climate change and toxic air.

For more information, click here.

Affordable Homes to be Built for Rough Sleepers in Norwich

Seven one-bedroom properties built in Kett’s Hill, Norwich, will be offered to former rough sleepers. City council officer Maria Hammond has stated that they will also be used for general needs in the longer term.

Some residents raised concerns about the increase of anti-social behaviour and the possible loss of light and privacy. Still, a spokesperson for the applicant, Broadland Development Services, has disputed these claims. Jake Lambert stated that councillors should not miss this opportunity to provide quality housing to the less fortunate.

For more information, click here.

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Graphic Designer

Tina Ledger

Being such a people person makes Tina exceptionally good at her job. She not only can relate to most people in one way or another, but she also genuinely enjoys hearing about other people’s experiences. Couple that with her creativity, resilience and ability to flourish under pressure, and you’ve got yourself a cracking Graphic Designer.

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