Speaking in a debate on housing, Iain Duncan Smith questions the Government on the suitability of building regulations and new prefab construction techniques.
I want to take my hon. Friend to one particular issue. One of the big problems we have had is that the building regulations are set against a new type of homes—prefab homes made of wood or steel—which can be built throughout the year, which would accelerate the whole building programme and which are ecologically far better than brick-built houses. Yet people always tell me that they have to make all sorts of adjustments just to meet the building regulations. Will my hon. Friend undertake to look at that, because these homes would accelerate the whole process of house building and make it much more affordable too?
My right hon. Friend, with his usual wisdom, has prefaced the part of my speech I am moving on to. He is quite right: we believe that modern methods of construction hold enormous potential not only to produce more homes but to produce them faster and better. I recently visited a factory in Walsall, in the west midlands, where Accord is building 1,000 homes a year using modern methods of construction. So good are the environmental standards that those homes for social rent have lower arrears, because people can afford to heat them.
That is something we are backing through our £4.5 billion home building fund, £2.5 billion of which is to champion small and medium-sized enterprises, custom builders and more diverse builders to get modern methods of construction and other cutting-edge tech into the mainstream. The fund has already allocated all of the original £1 billion of short-term funding. Over 94% of the funding contracted to date has gone to SME builders. We expect the fund to deliver more than 30,000 homes—around 5,000 more than the original target.