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Justice Secretary praises innovative Prisoners Building Homes (PBH) Scheme

An innovative scheme which employs prisoners to construct environmentally-friendly housing has been described as a ‘game-changer’ by a former inmate and a ‘triple win’ by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk.

Justice Secretary praises innovative Prisoners Building Homes (PBH) Scheme

Luke  - one of the prisoners taking part in the scheme

Prisoners Building Homes (PBH) started out as a pilot scheme in South West England. Funded by five Police and Crime Commissioners and the One Public Estate programme, which is managed by the Cabinet Office, the Local Government Association, and the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, PBH is working with housebuilders to employ prisoners across the country and is on track to deliver 82 homes this year.

Through partnership with private sector companies and landowners such as councils and churches, prisoners and recent prison leavers employed in the programme learn skills and get paid for their labour, so on release they are employable and can provide for themselves and their families.

The award-winning programme is now seeking new sites where there is a desire to deliver affordable, quality, low carbon, sustainable homes, which typically are allocated to those most in need of housing.

Alex Chalk KC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, visited a factory (MMC Homebuilding – one of the companies working with the programme) in Gloucester recently, where modular homes were being constructed. In a video created to support the programme he praised it for offering a creative solution to tackling reoffending.

“This is an exciting opportunity that can deliver on the needs of societies. Reoffending costs our country £20bn a year and devastates lives,” he said.

“Prisoners who get to do this learn skills that will ultimately ensure that they can have that hope, that sense of a future and a stake in society once again, and, of course, they’re producing homes, so this is a triple win, it’s good for individuals, it’s good for society and it’s good for the supply of homes in our country.”

Daniel was employed on his release after taking part in the programme and features in the video.

He said: “To come out of prison every day and earn honest money; to have a focus, something to do and a good purpose was a game-changer.”

Serving prisoner Luke said: “It’s made a huge difference, before we were locked up most of the day and it’s getting us out, making us use our minds a bit better, we’re building something constructive, it’s really lifted my mood, I feel better in myself - it’s definitely made a big difference to my mental health.”

Trevor, also a serving prisoner, said: “I’m not just stuck in a prison, I’m learning again, it’s a very good experience and I’m enjoying every minute of it. It makes you feel good, you’re earning a wage now, it means every month I’m able to send my wife and children money home.”

Serving prisoner Shaun said: “When we get released from prison it means there’s a chance for us to earn decent money legitimately rather than doing what we used to do. It’s a blueprint for the future on how to deal with prisoners and stop them reoffending.”

The scheme was initiated by Police and Crime Commissioners for Devon & Cornwall, Avon & Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: “Many people who are in prison may not have their own home to go to, may not have a job to go to and then often will fall into their old ways – we’re really keen to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford said it is “a very attractive project for everyone involved, I am highly proud of PBH, a great initiative that truly is life changing, working cross department is the key to its success”.

Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Chris Nelson described it as a “fantastic and innovative scheme that benefits everyone, cutting crime, giving prisoner’s hope for a better life, and providing genuinely affordable homes for those in need.”

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner David Sidwick said: “I believe the Prisoners Building Homes scheme has the ability to be a real game-changer in this country, there are so many benefits, not just for the housebuilders or those prisoners taking part, but for society as a whole. We have lots of people who need low-cost housing, and this scheme can help by supplying affordable housing whilst also helping those that have been to prison rehabilitate and give something back to society.”

Philip Wilkinson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon:

“I’ve seen the prisoners building homes and I’ve seen the enthusiasm with which they want to take on new skills which will enhance their life prospects when they leave the prison.

“It is a win-win for society in general.”

The programme won a prestigious award for innovation at the recent Government Property Awards.

Colin Hussey is Governor at HMP North Sea Camp in Lincolnshire, one of the prisons which is participating in the programme. He said: “The enormity of the programme cannot be understated. To leave prison with money in the bank, a house, somewhere to live and job security is an amazing thing that will change their future and the future of their families. Not only can we teach people a trade, a purpose and a work ethic, we can give them skills to leave prison better people who are law abiding, useful members of society.

“I have a workforce of prisoners which I can now deploy that cause me no concerns.”

Jason Bassett works for DragonHeart Homes, another of the companies working with the programme. He said: “It’s been transformative for us, participants’ attitudes have been amazing, they’ve genuinely felt it is a second chance opportunity. They have worked really hard, it’s added a lot of value to us and for the rest of our workforce.”

Prisons, housebuilders or landowners interested in getting involved in the project should email Prisoners Building Homes Programme Delivery Manager Sophie Baker at

Watch the video: