December 1, 2021

How will the Help to Build Scheme impact the construction industry’s supply chain?

Ben Brocklesby, Director at Origin, discusses what the Help to Build Scheme is, who it will benefit, and how it will impact the construction industry’s valuable supply chain.

The recently announced, Government funded, Help to Build Scheme will have excited many in the construction industry, I know it did me. The new initiative will see £150m of funding made available to make self-building more accessible and affordable. Formally announced in April, after first being proposed in the November 2020 Spending Review, the Government believes the scheme could contribute 30,000-40,000 new homes in the UK per year. Not only is this a significant move for homeowners, but it also presents a huge opportunity for the construction industry.

The new initiative, if all goes to plan, is set to revolutionise the way we build homes in this country, which can only be a positive thing. The big housebuilders are not currently meeting the UK’s housing requirements and the demand for homes outstrips supply. We have all seen the headlines stating we need an additional quarter of million homes just to keep up with demand. So, the initiative has been welcomed by many with open arms. The Help to Build Scheme will help ease the housing deficit by putting more power in the hands of smaller housebuilders and consumers, allowing them to build the homes they want, where they want. Following changes to self-build mortgages in the 90s, only the wealthy could afford to build their own homes, but the tide is changing.

However, with an increase in demand for housebuilding comes additional strain on supply chains, or is there? There are certainly a few different factors to consider.

Geography is important and will affect how supply chains may be stretched. For example, the construction of HS2, often considered the largest construction job in the order book with over 2,000 companies involved in the project, is putting a strain on the supply chains of building materials such as concrete and bricks, particularly in the South of England where the majority of work is currently taking place.  

The industry is also still recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, there are still pressures and limits on manufacturing facilities which had to shut down due to the working environment, which is having a wider impact on supply chains. Glazing is a key example of this. Following the shutdown of factories at the beginning of the pandemic, some of the industry is still playing catch up after the supply of glass all but ran out last summer.

Brexit is another factor. The industry is very much still adapting to our new relationship with the EU, and although there are no direct changes to importing construction materials to the UK, there are administrative burdens which can cause delays on receiving materials such as plywood and steel.

These teething problems within the industry at large may be exasperated by an increase in demand for housebuilding. However, those who have experience in building homes should largely be able to mitigate these pitfalls.  

Using trusted suppliers and those who have their own robust supply chains in place will be key to this. At Origin, our business is founded on the promise that we will never let our customers miss an install date, and we have invested heavily to ensure we have the capacity and stock available to qualify this promise. Working with suppliers who can deliver everything needed for the job is another bonus and means there are less suppliers to organise. We offer a fully suited service, so an entire property’s doors and windows can be supplied by one brand, instead of needing to source a residential door from one supplier and slimline windows from somewhere else, for example.

It’s these nuances which will prevent bumps in the road and ensure that builds remain on schedule, and on budget.

The Help to Build Scheme is the biggest shake up the residential construction industry in the UK has had in decades. Not only does it put the power back in the hands of the homeowner, but it also presents a huge opportunity for those of us in the construction industry who will be responsible for building the next generation of homes across the country.