UK Government supports MMC/Offsite
Response to HCLG MMC report
The UK Government has responded to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) by welcoming the report and, most importantly, affirming its commitment to MMC/Offsite Construction by expressing satisfaction that the committee recognised the importance of embracing MMC.
“We are pleased that the Committee recognises the importance of embracing MMC to build homes quicker and meet our ambition of building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, meeting housing need while maintaining build quality.”
Since the initial publication of the White Paper, the UK government announced
“a presumption in favour of MMC”
and this response includes a summary on the progress on the Government’s MMC programme under the following headings - Supporting the pipeline, Access to finance, Encouraging lending and managing risk, Planning, Expanding the evidence base, Supporting local authorities in housebuilding, Support for affordable housing, Improving access to land, and Improving skills provision.
Some other points of note from the responses to the recommendations in the initial report -
The Government agreed that the use of digital design technologies such as BIM would be critical to the effective use of offsite manufacturing technologies and stressed the importance of innovation and R & D if MMC is to thrive.
Demonstrating the Performance of MMC
For MMC to become better recognised as an established method of supply to the UK market, accurate records of performance are required.
“MHCLG’s MMC working group is specifically tasked with addressing barriers to assurance, insurance and finance for MMC homes and increasing uptake of this innovative methods of construction. The group has specifically been working with insurance and warranty providers as well as lenders to get a better understanding of their specific concerns and requirements for MMC and collectively agree on how best to resolve this to improve access to their products for MMC homes.”
Golden Thread of Digital Information
“The Government is currently consulting on proposals for a golden thread of digital information (‘Building a Safer Future: Consultation on proposals for reform of the building safety regulatory system’) for all multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more.”
The MMC Scheme
Lender confidence in Offsite Construction/MMC buildings is critical to the future growth and success of the sector. The Government agreed with the committee recommendation that the MMC scheme, which it is convinced will make a major contribution to lender confidence, should be launched before the end of the year. This should accelerate and increase access to finance and mortgages on these types of homes. An element of this process was the launch of an agreed definition framework and categorisation for all MMC which will help guarantee consistency about MMC definition and categorisation across the sector.
It is already a well-recognised fact within the construction industry that there is a scarcity of skilled professionals and tradespeople. While this provides an opportunity for MMC/Offsite Construction in that traditional skills are less critical, MMC provides its own challenges and requires trained and skilled personnel to deliver. This has to be one of the greatest challenges threatening sector growth. This is acknowledged in the responses to the report which highlights the launch of the £24 million Construction Skills Fund. The report also stresses that the industry must take responsibility by training the workforce in the required MMC skills.
Types of MMC
MMC/Offsite Construction covers a large range of materials, systems, methodologies, manufacturing techniques etc, and the Committee recommended that further work be carried out to identify those that work best.
“The government is seeking to use its purchasing power to create further demand and support industry in the uptake of design and manufacturing techniques, with the adoption of configurable standardised components produced in a quality production system, which it has called a platform approach to design for manufacture and assembly (P-DfMA).”
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