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Lords warn offsite uptake hampered by 'outdated models'

The government must go further in its efforts to promote offsite technologies in the construction industry, a report by the House of Lords has said.

A report published by the Lords’ science and technology committee today warned that the UK may struggle to meet its housing and infrastructure needs if offsite methods are not widely adopted.

The paper, Offsite Manufacture for Construction: Building for Change, said the slow uptake of offsite methods was a result of “outdated and unsustainable business models” in the industry.

The committee called on strong leadership from Construction Leadership Council to break down market barriers, describing the sector as “fragmented and lacking in trust”.

In its recommendations to the government, the Lords praised initial steps such as the sector deal and the presumption in favour of offsite in public contracts announced in the Budget, but called for these pledges to be taken further.

The committee suggested the government develop key performance indicators against which the success of the presumption-in-favour policy could be measured.

Its report also said the government should publish explanations in instances when it decides not to follow the policy.

The Lords highlighted how offsite could be used to tackle the industry’s labour shortage and recommended the development of new qualifications focused on offsite skills.

Committee chairman Lord Patel said: “The construction sector’s business models are no longer appropriate and are not supporting the UK’s urgent need for new homes and infrastructure.

“The construction sector needs to build more trust and create partnerships so that companies can work together to improve the uptake of offsite manufacture, and the Construction Leadership Council should provide the necessary leadership.

“The role of the government and the wider public sector is pivotal in a move to greater use of offsite manufacture.

“The report sets out actions that the committee thinks the government should take, including implementation of the construction sector deal, committed execution of the ‘presumption in favour’ of offsite manufacture, and a greater move to procuring for whole-life value rather than lowest cost.”

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