British Govt urged to get tough on utilities providers holding up new housing
The Housing and Finance Institute is calling for new Utility Direction Powers to be introduced in this month’s Budget to speed up the pipeline of much needed new homes. According to the institute it is the only way to force utility companies to deliver connections to new homes on time and their delays are holding up residential developments.
The institute also wants a new housing innovation fund to promote better and different ways of addressing the housing crisis and calls for housing to be included as its own national infrastructure priority. It has send its initial findings to the Government following a six month pilot scheme that launched in response to failing water companies severely infringing the ability of private developers to build more homes.
Their report also calls for more transparency about what homes are being built and when, plus new independent arbitrators to bridge the gap between developers and utility companies.
‘Too often new homes are being delayed by hold ups with utilities. Water, broadband and sewage connectivity is a particular problem, with some water companies completely failing to deliver what housing developers require,’ said Natalie Elphicke, chief executive of the Housing and Finance Institute.
‘Our pilot scheme, set up because we knew this has been slowing down the rate of housing completions right across the country, has provided us with new ideas for fixing these issues and facilitating the completion of more homes at a faster rate,’ she explained.
‘Most significantly, we would like to see new powers for the Government to force utility companies to connect new homes in a timely and business like fashion. Infrastructure for housing is also at creaking point in some parts of the country. We won’t make the changes needed by doing things the same old way. That’s why we are calling for a new housing innovation fund to promote different and better ways of addressing the housing crisis,’ she added.
Stephen Hammond MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure, welcomed the recommendations and said that the Government is in a position to make a very real difference to the rate of house building by making some cost efficient technical changes.
‘By implementing the measures proposed by this pilot scheme we can go a long way to providing a framework for more homes being built faster. In particular, we need to find a way to get utility companies and private developers working more in sync. We cannot allow blockages to hold up the release of more housing supply in the way they are doing now,’ he pointed out.