Reacting to the Prime Minister’s “New Deal” for Britain speech today (June 30), the Builders Merchants Federation gave it a qualified thumbs up as it awaits further detail.
BMF CEO, John Newcomb welcomed the commitment to creating jobs, skills and infrastructure as the Government looks to build the UK back to economic health in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis but noted that full a programme of national renewal must also promote better housing — both building new homes and upgrading existing ones.
John said: “It is great to see a Prime Minister responding to the Covid-19 crisis by promising to build back better, greener and faster, and by understanding the very real need to get the millions of people working in construction and building trades — including apprentices — back to work. In this regard, we are pleased to see the Construction Leadership Council’s Road to Recovery plan reflected in his speech.
“Reforming the planning system is long overdue and changes that speed up the system and enable redundant buildings to become new homes are certainly welcome. While some elements have been announced, we will need to see the detail in the promised planning Policy Paper in July.
“With regard to new housing, the building materials supply chain has often heard ministers talk a good game without the necessary political and managerial drive needed to build housing of all types and tenures through to completion.
“And, while we have heard that the Government will publish a National Infrastructure Strategy in the Autumn, we also need a firm commitment to level up existing housing in every region through a National Retrofit Strategy.
“Our ask of Boris is to help SME builders and allied trades to return to the market and do what they do best. Build small numbers of homes, in many locations, in keeping with their surroundings, that voters want to buy. And undertake the RMI that many UK homes still desperately need to provide warm and secure accommodation. All in all, to boost the number of greener, faster, better homes that the country needs.”