UK Government inquiry urges government to seek international expertise in modern methods of construction

The UK Government’s strategy for modern construction methods (MMC) is under scrutiny, and calls for a comprehensive review and strategic overhaul are intensifying amidst industry challenges.

In the wake of setbacks faced by UK modular construction industry with closures such as Ilke Homes, House by Urban Splash, and the closure of Legal & General’s modular housing factory last year, there’s a push for the government to attract global firms to the UK market, to bring greater innovation, expertise, and stability to the sector.

This recommendation stems from an inquiry conducted by the UK’s House of Lords Built Environment Committee, focusing on the future trajectory of MMC. The inquiry particularly addressed Category 1 MMC, which involves factory-produced houses ready for onsite installation, as opposed to the flat-pack models (Category 2) or constructions using prefabricated structural elements (Category 3).

After consultations with manufacturers and their clientele, the Lords suggest that the government needs to adopt a radically new approach. “The government’s approach to modern methods of construction (MMC) is in disarray,” states the report. “A substantial amount of public funds has been allocated, yet without a coherent strategy or concrete objectives. Category 1 (modular) MMC has not been financially successful, but with a strategic approach, it has the potential to significantly contribute to the housing sector.

“There are evident challenges with MMC, such as the reluctance of warranty providers and insurers, and the ambiguity in building regulations. However, it appears that the government has made limited efforts to comprehend and address these issues. “If the government is committed to the success of this sector, it needs to reassess, gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry and the support it requires, set realistic goals, and develop a structured strategy.”

The report also mentions: “The government should ensure that its procurement policies do not inhibit the entry of successful MMC firms from around the globe into the UK market.”

Lord Moylan, chair of the Built Environment Committee, remarked: “While modern construction methods are effectively used abroad and in constructing high-rises and non-residential buildings in the UK, this success hasn’t significantly impacted the MMC home building sector.

“Considering the ageing skilled workforce and the pressing need for sustainable construction, MMC has exhibited potential. Evidence suggests that the government’s housing construction targets are unlikely to be met without substantial input from the MMC sector.

“Our inquiry highlighted that the government has not clearly defined the objectives for the funding provided to the MMC sector. Homes England has not established clear metrics for success or specified a timeline.

“The government must alter its approach. Merely investing funds into the sector has proven insufficient. If it aims to foster MMC, it must delve deeper into understanding the sector, develop a clear strategy, and demonstrate leadership.”

Find the UK inquiry into MMC HERE

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