John Prescott, the deputy prime minister, has told housebuilders that he is disappointed by their lack of progress in increasing capacity to meet government housing targets

In a breakfast briefing held with senior industry figures last week, Prescott said the industry needed to invest more to increase its capacity and productivity.

Prescott acknowledged that industry had worked with the government to improve the desperate skills shortfall and the recruiting of apprentices in the UK.

But he warned that more improvements were needed, particularly through the use of modern methods of construction. He said: “The industry needs to realise that it can cut times in delivering projects and increase profits.”

A senior ODPM official told Building that the ODPM was “actively seeking” ways to encourage the sector to increase capacity through off-site manufacturing.

News of Prescott’s warning comes just a week after housebuilders claimed that the government’s housing targets were unrealistic.

Peter Johnson, Wimpey chief executive, warned last week that the planning system, rather than the housing market, was the main obstacle to the government’s aim of increasing housing supply to 10,000 a year.

Prescott this week announced the speakers for the government’s Sustainable Communities summit to be held in Manchester from 31 January to 2 February.

They will include Mercendes Bresso, MEP and former president of the Italian province of Turin, Richard Leese, leader of Manchester council, and Norman Rice, president of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle.