Developer community contributions at risk as almost 40,000 fewer homes built as a result of Covid-19, new figures reveal
- 38,700 fewer homes were built in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2019, when industry was planning for year on year growth had it not been for Covid-19
- This comes as a new report from the Home Builders Federation (HBF) highlights that £7billion was contributed by developers to communities in the past year and highlights the risk of community benefits lost as a result of these homes not being built
- Developer contributions in the last year are enough to build 25,000 miles of new road, recruit over 8,500 teachers, and plant 8.6 million trees, demonstrating the community benefits of building new homes
Government statistics showing that between March and June almost 40,000 fewer homes were built in England and Wales as a result of Covid-19, is the most stark indication yet of the impact the pandemic has had on the housing sector. These figures also highlight the wider impact for local communities given the subsequent loss of local contributions and community benefits that come with the development of new homes. 30,394 new homes were completed in Q2 2020, less than half of the 69,100 built in the same period last year, a staggering decline when, had it not been for Covid-19, the industry was planning for year-on-year growth.
This comes as the Home Builders Federation (HBF) launch their new report, Building Communities: Making Place a Home, which quantifies the levels of community investment by home builders in real world terms, showing that this stagnation has an impact not just on new homes but on vital community investment that goes alongside house building.
The report outlines government figures which demonstrate that developer contributions to communities through Section 106 agreements and other mechanisms in the last year has been over £7 billion. In sector specific contributions, enough has been invested in education to recruit 8,500 new teachers, in green spaces to plant 8.6 million trees, raised in council tax to build 25,000 miles of road or fill 53 million potholes. The home building industry has also played a key role in helping local communities respond to the devasting impact of Covid-19 by supplying PPE, donating funds and creating new spaces where people can be treated safely.
To raise awareness of the contribution of home builders for communities, the report calls for a public badging scheme, labelling all community assets which were funded by developer investment, which can be done via an easily visible 'blue plaque' or sign.
It also calls for developer contributions which cannot be spent on their original intended purpose to be given to the affected community directly, not returned to the developer. This can be done through council tax rebates or direct payments to local residents.
Exclusive YouGov polling shows the need for these measures:
- Only 37% of people associate a housing development with a financial contribution from developers, while 73% associate a housing development with increased pressure on facilities and services
- 73% support councils giving unspent developer contributions to the local area, while 2% support the current system of unspent contributions being returned to developers
HBF Executive Chairman Stewart Baseley, said:
"Coronavirus resulted in the closure of house building sites and so inevitably output this year will fall. As well as undermining progress made in recent years to reduce our housing shortfall, this will reduce the huge contribution development makes to community infrastructure and local economies.
"Whilst the industry has rebounded strongly with sales at record levels, we need a renewed focus on housing policy to reduce the shortfall and to ensure that communities continue to enjoy the benefits of this investment.
"Our report shows the true value of home building, not just in terms of bricks and mortar, but in the investment that comes with it for local communities, from building schools and hospitals, to parks and leisure centres.
"The recommendations made are vital for benefiting communities. When developers give financial contributions to a local authority as part of the house building process, we expect that the money to go towards the communities we are serving. Simply put, we don't want contributions back, they should be spending it on local people.
"A public badging scheme would go some way to improving awareness among the public about what development can mean for their communities. Currently, the public are not made aware enough of the community benefits of development. Tackling this will increase support for building the homes we so vitally need in this country."
Jennie Daly, Group Operations Director at Taylor Wimpey, commented:
“Creating better communities is a key priority at Taylor Wimpey, and we so we appreciate the efforts of the HBF to draw attention to the significant contributions being made across the sector.
“At Taylor Wimpey, we prioritise engaging with communities throughout the planning and construction process, with ‘placemaking’ an important part of delivering on our promise to put our customers and their communities at the heart of everything we do.
“In the first half of this year alone, we contributed over £92 million to the local communities in which we build across the UK, providing vital local infrastructure, affordable homes, public transport and education facilities. We are extremely proud of this achievement but continue to look for new and innovative ways to provide further support.”
Philip Barnes, Group Land and Planning Director at Barratt Developments, said:
“Last year we contributed £600m in local contributions and physical works, building schools, playgrounds, infrastructure and local facilities to help build communities. We don’t just build homes we create communities where people want to live, and anything which helps promote that should be welcomed.”
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Jonathan Andrew, Field Consulting
079 9941 0478
Notes to Editors:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2023 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 5th March 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)
About the Home Builders Federation
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s member firms account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies.
For more information about HBF, please visit www.hbf.co.uk