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Hammond says prefabs 'the future' as young won't work on building sites

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
Rapid-build modular housing in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

The UK chancellor has said prefab houses are “the future” because young people don’t want to work on construction sites in bad weather.

He said off-site construction and other innovative techniques were the only way Britain could meet the government’s target for 300,000 new homes a year, with too few skilled workers available for traditional construction methods.

The comments by Philip Hammond about young people’s attitudes to work may raise eyebrows, but his strong support for pre-packed homes is likely to be welcomed by campaigners for a solution to Britain’s housing crisis.

Prefabs’ reputation has suffered because of the poor-quality homes built during and after the Second World War, but several new factories have opened in recent years and they appear on the cusp of a revival.

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Hammond told parliament’s treasury committee today: “For many, many reasons this is going to be the future, not least because I’m told by major house builders in this country that it is increasingly difficult to recruit young people who want to work outdoors on open building site conditions in all weathers.

“It’s much easier to recruit people on off-site construction inside a factory environment, where working conditions are generally better.”

He said it was government policy to encourage such manufacturing of pre-made homes, using the government’s buying power, affordable housing policy and Homes England agency to support the industry.

He made the comments in response to a question from Labour MP John Mann, who asked how the government would support a fledgling industry of manufactured housing that had been “dormant for the last four years.”

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