The Housing and Finance Institute, under the leaderhsip of Natalie Elphicke and backed by the Treasury of the UK (at leas tin the 2015 Budget) has claimed that problems with connecting water utilities quickly enough are slowing the building of new homes. The statement, which called for “utility direction powers” for the HFI, has made the call with the intention of allowing the Department for Communities (DCLG) to step in where utility companies are “causing a detrimental impact on housing, growth and community wellbeing.”
The call may not be misplaced, however, since the accompanying report showed that every single water company in the UK had failed its targets for connecting sewerage to new houses in 2015. The report also called for the water regulator Ofwat and energy regulator Ofgem to merge into one agency “to drive more collaborative and planned local utilities provision”.
Elphicke, in a statement to the press, said “In industry discussions, water, electricity, gas, broadband and roads are most often cited as the practical barriers to speedy housing growth… To get homes built faster requires better performance from utilities companies who are currently failing to deliver on the homes the country needs.”
The work delays caused by utility companies missing targets and working slowly has caused many landlords to face grant reductions as the houses they were building were not being completed in time to recieve the full grants promised by the Affordable Homes Programme. The deadline of March 31st had to be met with full utilities installed, including water, gas and electricity, in order to avoid the grant cuts.
And Ofwat spokesman, when contacted for comment, said “We’ve been coordinating efforts with water companies, developers, planning authorities and those in other utility sectors to improve the process, communications and relationships. We know how important this is and are doing what we can to shift roadblocks and promote investment.”
The DCLG has been approached for comment.