With Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party recording a thumping general election victory, numerous industry voices are looking to put the political logjam of recent times firmly in the past and are calling for the new Government to deliver on its pledges to unlock a building boom.
Here, we bring you the latest comments from a number of leading industry bodies with topics such as housebuilding, a VAT reduction on RMI works and the decarbonisation agenda the key underlying themes:
The Builders Merchants Federation
The BMF is calling for swift action from the new Conservative Government to transform the construction industry. Offering his congratulations to Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party, BMF CEO John Newcomb called on Conservative leaders to set the conditions for a more productive, greener sector, which in turn will protect and create vital jobs across the UK.
John said: “The new Government must look beyond Brexit to domestic policy. We urge the next Housing and Climate Change ministers to focus on two major issues, namely the narrowing of the gap between housing demand and supply, and the decarbonisation of heating and electrification of homes with sustainable means. We need to see a policy and real action to build homes, eliminate carbon in our housing stock and create prosperity.”
On new housing, the BMF wants to see unrelenting political determination behind concerted action to simplify and speed up planning approvals for un-controversial applications to increase housing completions. The whole thrust must be implementation, enabling BMF members to invest confidently in the people and materials and products needed. In addition, the BMF requested early clarification on what the future holds for the Help To Buy Scheme.
John also urged the new Government to talk to the BMF with regard to decarbonising homes, saying: “BMF members have a key role to play as they make and deliver the majority of materials and products used to provide low carbon solutions for today’s housing. The BMF strongly supports the “Fabric First” concept with a coherent, long-term framework that combines better insulation, efficient boilers and low-carbon, micro-generation on the road to net zero carbon emissions.”
Reducing VAT from 20% to 5% on home improvement works is central to this aim and the BMF, along with others in construction, has already written to Mr Johnson to outline the economic, environmental and social benefits from improving existing properties with a lower VAT rate.
Federation of Master Builders
Todays’ historic result must draw a line under years of crippling uncertainty that has been so toxic for UK construction, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to the General Election result.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The new Conservative Government has a golden opportunity to sort out Brexit and set out its new vision for the UK. Building the homes and infrastructure that this country needs has to be a key priority to help drive the economy forward.”
He concluded: “The Government needs to back the nation’s army of small builders, by delivering on the promised £3bn National Skills Fund, investing in quality through a licensing scheme for the whole UK construction industry, and supporting local builders to retrofit the millions of homes that need to be upgraded to low carbon.”
Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester Bosch, provided the following statement:
“It has been widely reported that the 2019 general election was the climate election. Part of me agrees, and it was good to see that all major political parties have focused on environmental policies within their manifestos during the campaign trail.
“This is unsurprising as the public has been more aware of climate change and its detrimental effects than in previous years. However, the elected party really needs to ensure that the momentum continues and the promises they have made can be met.
“The net zero target is an important one and something we would have supported regardless of which party came into office. Worcester Bosch and others in the industry have already been working towards through developing new technologies to help support this. However, the decarbonisation of heating and hot water is and will be one of the hardest to tackle and a realistic timeline is essential.
“With the Conservatives retaining their leadership, the original commitment to net zero by 2050 remains. This is realistic and achievable as it gives industry time to continue developing and suggesting new low carbon heating technologies, such as hydrogen gas.
“The Conservatives have specifically mentioned boilers in their manifesto, saying that they would allocate £6.3bn for environmental upgrades to homes, such as grants for improving boilers and insulation.”
National Federation of Builders
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) congratulates the Conservatives on their general election victory and hopes it is a signal for the nation to get moving again after a prolonged period of inertia. It contends that the election result has taken the nation closer to ending Brexit uncertainty and restoring business confidence, while ensuring that a programme for legislation can go through the House of Commons.
NFB members, the organisation argues, have experienced a challenging period thanks to building projects being delayed until Brexit certainty was restored, so it is to be hoped that the wheels of industry will begin turning again.
Members of the NFB are said to be particularly looking forward to seeing what plans the Government has on late payment, fixing the broken planning process, home ownership, social housing and procurement reform. Addressing these issues, it goes on, will once again make building and construction the engine room of the nation’s economy.
Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the NFB, said: “We are well overdue a period of certainty and stability so businesses can thrive. The date of 31 January 2020 is not far away and the Government must redouble its efforts to make sure all industries and businesses are fully represented in planning for either a transition period or no deal.
“The Brexit deadlock has negatively impacted the productivity of construction and housebuilding but our members will be breathing a sigh of relief that a direction of travel can now be set. With so many commitments to small business, housing and the climate, we look forward to supporting Prime Minister Johnson to deliver his manifesto and ambitions.”
The image shows Boris Johnson during a visit to Ibstock’s Chesterton factory in 2014 when he was Mayor of London in which he saw first-hand the improvements made following a £22million of investment into the facility by the brick manufacturer.
Famously, he used a brick made during his visit as a prop during the 2014 Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, whilst a signed brick was subsequently auctioned off for charity, raising £600 for the Construction Youth Trust.