Boris Johnson’s pledge at the last election to build 300,000 new home a year by the middle of this decade is now “almost impossible” due to labour and material shortages, according to industry groups.
The Conservative party’s election winning 2019 manifesto included a promise to build “300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s” and that “this will see us build at least a million more homes, of all tenures” by 2024.
The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), a business body for purchasing and supply chain management, told The Observer that this target was now unfeasible thanks to shortages in the British economy.
CIPS group director Duncan Brock said: “Timber is needed for house carcasses and housebuilders are saying it will probably take 12 to 18 months to resolve.
“Concrete, mortar and cement are also ongoing shortages, probably with similar timelines. So therefore, can they build as much as they’d like to build, or can they increase from current levels?
“When there’s a shortage of materials, you’d argue that’s going to be almost impossible.”
Building more property across the UK and solving the housing crisis were key pillars of Johnson’s offering at the last election and touted as a key indication the country was “levelling up”.
However, the Prime Minister has had trouble convincing a large group of Tory backbenchers to support the government’s housing reforms as many MPs in the South complain they will lead to more tower blocks being built in their constituencies.
House building efforts are now predicted to also be hampered by shortages of bricklayers, lorry drivers, joiners and plumbers.
Estimates vary, but it is thought that around 1m people may have left the UK as a result of Covid-19 and Brexit.
This has led to workers shortages in a number of key areas, without free movement with the EU able to fill this gap.
Construction activity has been strong since the end of lockdown, but it is now beginning to slow down. Sales of bricks, a key indicator of construction activity, is now below 2019 levels.