Planning reforms announced in the summer budget were a firm signal that ministers want to encourage, rather than stifle, development.

Steve Sanham

The success of these measures has yet to be seen, but the next biggest obstacle housebuilders face is construction costs.

Having scraped along on tiny margins through the downturn, contractors are now seeing renewed pressure on resources, materials and equipment, leading to huge increases in construction costs.

The pressure on materials and equipment is extreme, with brick prices rising by 9% in the first six months of this year, and cranes being imported from all over the world to keep up with demand.

There seems to be little that a developer can do to try and influence those factors, but where we can and should commit ourselves is to the training up of skilled construction professionals. Not only does this support the industry, but also makes our efforts in the regeneration of the areas we work in more meaningful and worthwhile.

The government does support apprenticeships and there are many laudable initiatives established to funnel funding through into results-based programmes. But it is far from clear as to how successful many of these are - in some cases if someone turns up for a couple of weeks work they might be considered to have taken part in an apprenticeship course and/or be a local employee, so a tick goes in a box and that’s that.

Another problem is the majority of the funding available for apprenticeships is also funnelled into 16- to 19-year-olds - a politically popular age group to assist, but not an age group particularly welcome on a building site. As a result, unskilled adults in their 20s find it challenging to access funding for their courses, and contractors find it difficult to get the necessary support to employ them. Yet it is this age group who are being left behind by society, and who would benefit the most from upskilling.

If we are to deliver homes in the numbers we need, at the rate that we need them, then we need to address the delivery side of the equation, and that means taking an interest in the people who build the homes for us.

Steve Sanham, Development director, HUB Residential

Clients Solutions in association with Grainger