PBM considers the responses from a number of industry organisations to ‘one of the most unpredictable General Election results in recent years’.
The BMF asserts that it wants to see the new government focus on two major issues to promote economic growth across the UK — building more homes and developing proper industrial policy. It has welcomed both the re-appointment of Greg Clark MP as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy with responsibility for the building materials’ supply chain, and the re-appointment of Sajid Javid as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
John Newcomb, BMF Managing Director, said: “There remains a high degree of uncertainty regarding the new government’s priorities. It now appears that the Queen’s Speech will be delayed by several days so it could be well into next week before matters become clearer. The priorities have to include building homes, supporting businesses, creating jobs and raising productivity, and the fact that two key ministers are remaining in place is a positive sign.
“We believe that the Housing White Paper must now be progressed as it contains many of the solutions to the ‘broken housing market’. We want to see strong political determination behind concerted action to simplify and speed up planning approvals to increase housing completions.
“In agreeing and adopting the Industrial Strategy, the BMF favours a strategy that showcases the construction industry, based on a clearly-defined, well-articulated mission to give it purpose, drive and direction. A resilient, functioning and enduring supply chain must be a core component if the Strategy is to succeed.”
The FMB has outlined its concerns that the construction sector could be left vulnerable to the negative effects of political uncertainty following the indecisive result of the General Election.
Brian Berry, FMB Chief Executive, said: “The surprise result has left key business sectors nervous with no one political party securing enough seats to form a majority government. The construction sector is particularly vulnerable to dips in consumer confidence brought about by political uncertainty and therefore it’s crucial that this uncertainty is minimised.
“In the longer term, there could be a potential silver lining for the business community as the prospect of a hard Brexit now seems less likely. Theresa May stood on a hard Brexit platform and she has clearly not been given a mandate to approach the negotiations in this way. Brexit is inevitable but the election result will surely have a significant impact on the shape of the Brexit deal we end up with.
“This could be a positive for business leaders who are concerned about a broad range of issues — for the construction sector, our greatest concern is that the flow of migrant workers might be reduced too quickly and before we are able to put in place a framework for training sufficient UK workers to replace them.”
The FTA has called for the new government to review its decision to leave the EU Customs Union, given the confusion caused by the results of the General Election and lack of a clear mandate from British voters.
“UK exporters and importers are thinking what does the election result mean for Brexit, and the potential impact on my supply chains,” said James Hookham, FTA’s Deputy CEO. “After four weeks of campaigning for the General Election, vital time has been lost to prepare for the crucial Brexit negotiations. It is now imperative that that the new government focuses its efforts on supporting the logistics sector to ensure that business can continue to trade efficiently with our EU customers and suppliers.
“Exiting the Customs Union threatens the imposition of tariffs, border checks, Customs declarations and huge amounts of bureaucracy for the significant number of UK businesses that trade in the EU, and the logistics organisations that deliver it for them. Negotiating a replacement trade deal that avoids these would require a strong and convincing mandate, which the election has now put into doubt. The importance of frictionless arrangements for UK trade with the EU, particularly with Ireland, means that the decision to leave the Customs Union should be reviewed as a matter of urgency, and other ways of achieving a positive outcome for Brexit should now be considered.
“In order to ‘Keep Britain Trading’, exporters and importers and the international logistics sector need trading conditions which are as seamless and easy to navigate as possible. The decision to leave the EU Customs Union was always going to make this tough to deliver, and without a strong and convincing mandate, the government will find fulfilling its promise to do so almost impossible.”