Help to Buy scheme gets Britain building

Help to Buy helps Britain buildingOver 35,000 aspiring homeowners have been helped onto the property ladder through one of the government’s Help to Buy schemes, Kris Hopkins announced today.

The minister welcomed the key role this scheme is playing in the government’s long-term economic plan, both helping people buy their own home but also boosting house building and creating jobs in construction.

A help onto the housing ladder

New figures today show that since the launch of Help to Buy 14 months ago, 22,831 people have bought newly-built homes through the Help to Buy: equity loan scheme.

There have also been 7,313 sales through the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee and 5,173 sales through the Help to Buy: NewBuy scheme. This takes total sales through Help to Buy to over 35,000.

All sales through Help to Buy: equity loan – and three-quarters of overall sales through all elements of Help to Buy – are new-build properties.

Since the launch of the scheme, house building is up a third compared to last year and at its highest level since 2007, while 216,000 planning permissions were granted in the last 12 months.

Recent estimates still show that Help to Buy accounts for just 3% of overall house sales

Help to Buy across the country

Nationally, 86% of Help to Buy: equity loan sales were to first-time buyers, while the average house price under the scheme was £206,084 – far lower than the £252,000 average house price. The vast majority of Help to Buy: equity loan sales – 94% – are outside London.

Overall, the highest numbers of Help to Buy sales are in:

  • Leeds: 580
  • Wiltshire: 506
  • Central Bedfordshire: 458
  • Milton Keynes: 417
  • Peterborough: 379

Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said: “In 2010 we inherited a broken housing market, where hard-working people who could afford a mortgage were locked out of home ownership because they couldn’t get the deposit together.

“Help to Buy is changing that – to date, this scheme has enabled 35,000 people buy their own place with a fraction of the deposit they would normally require.

“And with house building up a third over the past year, it’s clearly having a wider impact, getting workers back on construction sites and building the homes communities want and need.”

ISG wins Suffolk framework school

ISGISG has been awarded the £4.7 million contract to carry out the construction of a new state-of-the-art building on campus of Bridge School in Ipswich.

Since planning was agreed late in 2013, ISG has been working closely with Concertus Design & Property Consultants, to get the details around the final specification and cost agreed.

Concertus has been involved right from the start, undertaking the feasibility study and carrying out the design. It will now move on to project manage the scheme on behalf of the client, Suffolk County Council.

Key design considerations for Concertus included accessibility, ergonomics, internal and external colour palettes and the provision of well-designed external spaces.

The building has also been designed to be highly efficient and will incorporate a biomass boiler and high-performance building materials to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Over the next six weeks, ISG will be carrying out enabling works on-site erecting the perimeter fencing, installing the tree protection arrangements and setting up the site offices. Construction work will start in earnest in the middle of August.

Alan McCarthy-Wyper, managing director of ISG’s Construction business, said: “The early engagement between key stakeholders has already sparked real innovation within the construction process.

“Also, bringing the combined experience of all project partners to the table from the very outset will undoubtedly result in the delivery of an excellent scheme tailored to the specific requirements of pupils and staff.”

The stand-alone, single-storey, cross laminated timber frame building, will provide 10 class spaces, office and specialist accommodation including an occupational therapy and physio gym, a library, soft play room and a new school hall. Externally, ISG will carry out a wide ranging landscaping scheme designed to provide for the specialist needs of the pupils.

ISG’s project is envisaged as phase one of a staged programme. Future phases will aim to provide improved shared accommodation and replacement facilities for the secondary-aged pupils.

Hammerson’s £70m scheme gets the go-ahead

Hammerson’s £70m scheme gets the go-aheadHammerson’s detailed planning application for its £70 million Watermark WestQuay development has been approved by Southampton City Council.

The leisure-led scheme was unanimously supported by councillors and will deliver a landmark 10 screen cinema, up to 20 restaurants and a major public piazza for the city.

Following the approval of the application, building work is expected to start on site later this autumn with Watermark WestQuay set to open in autumn 2016.

The design of Watermark WestQuay includes upper and lower promenades which will be lined with restaurants and cafes, with the leisure and cinema building set above.

The new public square located in front of the city’s historic wall has been inspired by water pools created by mudflats on the Southampton coastline and includes a unique water feature that ebbs and flows like the tide. The piazza will also be used during the year for events such as open air cinemas and concerts.

Guy Wells, Hammerson Development Manager said: “This site offers a unique opportunity to deliver an exceptional leisure and dining destination for Southampton. We have been encouraged with the level of support we have received on the scheme from stakeholders and we have worked hard with the council to create a scheme which is already generating strong interest from potential occupiers.”

Councillor Simon Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council, said: “Watermark WestQuay will add a fantastic dynamic to Southampton both visually and as a leisure hub within our city centre, providing a vast array of new dining and leisure experiences, as well as up to 500 jobs; not including the construction jobs that will come during the build phase. I look forward to seeing work start on site later this year and frequenting the facilities in 2016!”

Experts have told Sky News that thousands of workers need to be recruited and trained in order to meet intense demand for new housing

Experts have told Sky News that thousands of workers need to be recruited and trained in order to meet intense demand for new housingA serious shortage of skilled construction workers is impacting on the industry’s recovery. A shortage of homes is among the factors fuelling rapidly rising house prices.

Last year just 108,190 houses were completed in England, fewer than half the 220,000 the Home Builders Federation says are needed to keep up with demand.

However, there currently aren’t enough skilled workers. During the recession 390,000 workers left the industry according to the national training organisation, the CITB.

Fewer apprentices have joined the sector since 2008, resulting in an aging work force. A further 410,000 workers are due to retire in the next five years.

Mark Aldcroft, who manages a new build site near Stockport, told Sky News: “Definitely bricklaying and roofers, we’re struggling to get an influx of them.

“Sometimes we can’t get enough of the joinery industry because they’re being pulled from pillar to post, various other contractors and house builders.

“Inevitably it does cause delays,” he said.

Jay Culbert, who works as a labourer, said he has noticed fewer young people coming into the industry.

He told Sky News: “People have obviously steered away from it because they were unable to make a career in this when we suffered the recession.

“I think people have steered toward those jobs that require more thinking rather than obviously physical, manual labour.

Mike Bialyj from the CITB said there will “undoubtedly” be an impact on the housing sector.

He told Sky News: “One in 20 companies were forecasting that their business could be damaged or even irreparably damaged due to the skills shortage, so we really do need to make sure we fill the gap.”

Tomorrow, the Bank of England Governor Mark Carney will outline his plans to take the heat out of the housing market.

It comes as research from charity Shelter shows that rising prices mean 80% of properties for sale in England are now unaffordable for the average working family.

In an exclusive interview with Sky News last month Mr Carney said: “The issue around the housing market in the UK … is there are not sufficient (numbers of) houses (being) built.”

Asked if more houses need to be built, Mr Carney replied: “That would help us out.”

FSB uncovers a growing skills gap as small firms’ confidence hits an all-time high

FSB uncovers a growing skills gap as small firms' confidence hits an all-time highThe latest Federation of Small Businesses‘ (FSB) Small Business Index shows a growing skills shortage in the workplace. Now identified as a significant barrier to growth for small firms, almost one third (29.9%) of those surveyed report skills shortages as hampering growth, with construction and computer services particularly hard hit.

To address this increasingly significant issue facing the UK labour market, the FSB wants to see a number of steps taken:

  • The business and education community must work more closely together to ensure young people are ‘work ready’ and understand the demands of the world of work. Employability skills must be embedded from an early age; the labour market has changed dramatically in recent years and businesses are adapting to that change but the education system needs to catch up.
  • Reforms must be completed to create a business-led, high quality apprenticeship system that provides a real choice between vocational and academic routes. This should be for the long term, and aspire to match standards of our leading competitors such as Germany.
  • Traineeships must be used as a credible alternative to a formal apprenticeship. Initiatives such as the TechBac, 14-19 college programmes and the rejuvenation of University Technical Colleges serve to demonstrate that a vocational education is no longer considered the second tier of the UK education system

Despite the challenges around skills, the survey of almost 2,500 businesses shows confidence at a record high with year-on-year gains seen across the whole of the UK, led again by London and the South East. Confidence remains weaker in other parts of the UK such as the North West. Professional services and technology continue to display the strongest optimism, with significantly good news around the manufacturing sector.

The report shows investment intentions remain strong. FSB believes business investment helps to boost productivity, which in turn feeds through into higher wages and living standards.

Key findings show:

• The Small Business Index rose to 39.7, breaking the previous score of 35.7 in Q1 2014
• Nearly three in 10 small companies (29.9%) report skills shortages as a barrier to growth, up from 25.4% in Q1 2014
• Investment intentions remain strong. This quarter a net balance of more than one in four firms (25.6%) expects to increase capital investment over the next 12 months.

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “As the labour market continues to tighten alongside the economic recovery, skills shortages will continue to be an increasing concern for more businesses. While this helps to boost the wage bargaining power of workers with the right skills, it poses a risk to the momentum of economic growth and once again underlines a long standing structural weakness in the UK economy.

“Despite the emergence of a skills shortage, these results show small firms are still feeling very confident, with every intention to invest and grow. This will provide further momentum to the recovery, especially in terms of jobs growth.”

Work on Doncaster estate set to get underway

Work on Doncaster estate set to get underwayDoncaster residents will soon benefit from a £6.7 million investment to build new homes and regenerate part of the Willow Estate in Thorne.

Jephson Homes Housing Association has teamed up with Doncaster Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Ignite Homes to create 73 one, two and three-bedroom homes on a site that has been vacant for the past decade. It’s the first scheme to benefit from the new Delivery Partner Panel.

They will be completed in two stages, with 42 finished by March 2015 and the remainder in 2016.

Stuart Shore, Jephson northern regional director, said: “We’re delighted to get started on this development of high-quality homes for local people. We’re very grateful to both Doncaster Council and the HCA for their support to make this exciting development possible.

“This is a key site for regeneration of the area and our plans have been very well received by residents given the high need for affordable housing in the area.”

Lisa Jones, Area manager at the Homes and Communities Agency said: “These 71 new homes will make a real difference to residents in Thorne and it is great to see what a difference our investment of £800,000 will make to the local community.

“Our partners in Doncaster council used our Delivery Partner Panel to not only save money but also reduce the amount of time it takes to appoint a developer for the site – the first local authority in the country to make use of the new panel.”

Peter Dale, director of regeneration and environment at Doncaster Council, added: “This scheme is fantastic news for families in Doncaster. Creating jobs, growth and housing are top priorities for the council. So we’re delighted to be working with Jephson Homes Housing Association, the HCA and Ignite Homes to regenerate this area of Thorne.”

Paul Moore, director of Ignite Homes, believes the project will bring real benefits to the neighbourhood, adding: “This is the first scheme in the north of England to be built under the Homes and Communities Agency’s new partnership framework. It’s a great example of using public money to create homes and improve communities.”

Bobby Chakravarthy, associate partner for construction and property consultants, Arcus consulting, who worked on the development, added: “We’re thrilled to see this flagship project starting on site. Jephson Housing has committed to excellent design standards, which will improve residents’ quality of life of and add value to the local community.”

Galliford Try bags £100m Kent deal

Galliford Try  1Galliford Try has reached financial close with Kent County Council on the £100 million Excellent Homes for All scheme that will pave the way for new homes in the area.

The construction contract will involve the provision of seven schemes of supported housing across the county that will pave the way for new jobs in the construction industry.

Approximately 240 homes providing supported living for vulnerable adults across Kent, as well as communal facilities will be built by Galliford Try’s Partnerships business.

In addition, Galliford Try will invest in the funding for the project and will provide ongoing facilities maintenance and lifecycle management services in operating the scheme.

Housing Management services for the project will be provided by Galliford Try’s partner, the West Kent Housing Association.

Galliford Try Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald said: “We are delighted to have reached agreement with our partners at Kent County Council on this initiative and are now able to get the project underway.

“Extra Care remains an important sector for Galliford Try and we look forward to providing the high quality homes and facilities that Kent’s residents deserve.”