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The Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce is calling for huge investment in a bid to "reboot the London housing sector".
Led by the Mayor of London, the taskforce wants investment to focus on technology, skills and career opportunities as a catalyst to support the construction jobs of the future.
The investment call comes as new research by Shelter predicts around 244,000 construction jobs could be lost from across the country in a year, and 300,000 fewer homes built over five years, if the government does not invest in social housing.
The recommendations are part of the final report from Deputy Mayor Tom Copley’s ‘Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce’, bringing together London builders, councils, housing associations and unions to consider the challenges posed by the pandemic and plan a route to recovery.
The Taskforce believes it is "essential to develop the skills and expertise of existing workers" and ensure London continues to be an attractive destination for skilled construction site workers from overseas by developing a new post-Brexit visa system for construction workers that works for London.
Developing new skills is essential for embracing new methods of construction such as ‘precision manufactured housing’ – in which components are manufactured in a factory, transported to a site and mostly, or entirely, completed and assembled on location.
The Taskforce recommends the GLA and Government invest in this technology to support businesses in expanding their operations and develop new environmentally friendly products that can help the industry work towards a zero-carbon future.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The work of London’s Covid-19 Housing Delivery Taskforce has been collaborative, comprehensive and timely. Building the social and other genuinely affordable homes Londoners need has always been my top priority but the pandemic has challenged that ambition like nothing before.
“Now we have a unique opportunity to reboot the London housing sector. This roadmap to recovery builds on the skills, expertise and experience we have whilst investing in the latest technology and training to maintain our world-leading workforce.
“The housing industry is speaking with one voice and its message is clear. Now Ministers must listen and support our recommendations so we can emerge from this crisis with improved resilience, a greater sense of co-operation and a new-found resolve to deliver the genuinely affordable homes that London so desperately needs.”
Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, said: "It has been a privilege to be part of the Mayor's Housing Delivery Taskforce, examining what needs to be done to put housing at the heart of the country's recovery from coronavirus.
"Investing in housing is one of the most important steps the government can take to help get the economy moving again. As well as being the right thing to do, putting money into new social housing always pays dividends through support for jobs, businesses and the wider economy.
"Indeed, building the 90,000 new social homes this country needs every year would add £4.8bn to the economy and support 86,000 jobs. This is why it's vital that the coronavirus pandemic doesn't get in the way of tackling the housing crisis."
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing & planning said: “We need a new deal for London’s housing sector in line with the government’s commitment to ‘build build build’.
“Boroughs are playing a leading role in tackling the capital’s chronic shortage of affordable homes. This includes embracing innovative new approaches, such as our collaborative project PLACE that will use modular housing units as high-quality temporary accommodation for homeless Londoners.
“But with the sector under massive pressure due to Covid-19, there’s a clear and urgent need for government support. Only central government has the resources to boost housebuilding in the capital with an emergency recovery package, which would secure jobs and help us deliver the homes Londoners need.”
Suzannah Nicol MBE, Chief Executive of Build UK, said: “The construction sector has a huge part to play in building the homes and places that make life better for Londoners and strengthen the communities around them.
“By working collaboratively we can provide quality homes, using greener and more modern technologies, that are safe, affordable, and which people want to live and work in.”
Sam Gurney, TUC Regional Secretary for London and the South East, said: “London is asking the UK government to commit to funding a massive increase in the number of new social homes in London.
"Not only will that provide some of the new low-cost homes we need, but it will act as a stimulus to the economy and provide thousands of new high-quality jobs in construction and related industries.
“New careers in construction should be open to all, including those groups that are presently under-represented in the sector, such as woman, BME, young and disabled workers.
“The key to this will be quality terms and conditions of employment, more direct employment, better training and improving the industry’s image. It is time to build to succeed.”