construction industry

Posted 5 months ago

Construction industry writes wishlist ahead of the General Election

With Parliament officially dissolved today, MPs have received the green light to hit the campaign trail towards the General Election in June. With many still reeling from Theresa May’s shock announcement last month, construction industry leaders have weighed-in with their own manifestos. The documents detail a range of construction-related commitments they hope the political parties will adopt and incorporate into their march for Number 10.

Several of the UK’s leading construction trade organisations, including the Federation of Master Builders and the Electrical Contractors Association, this week published manifestos ahead of the General Election.

While Brexit features heavily elsewhere in party campaigns, construction industry big-hitters are looking to protect the interests of UK construction by strengthening the status of construction within the UK itself. With the spotlight on training, house building and procurement reform, the manifestos are clear in their intention to safeguard UK construction ahead of the break with the European Union.

The result? A nation that can supply its own highly-skilled construction workforce, with a commitment to build a minimum number of new homes year on year in all four member states and a fairer, more transparent procurement system - regardless of company size or stature.  

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Programme for Government sets out a five point plan of action for the next UK government to adopt to ensure the continued growth of the construction industry post-Brexit.  

In brief, the FMB’s five point plan covers the following areas...

Make sure the construction industry is staffed by a skilled workforce:

  • Enhancement of the apprenticeship process by improving the quality, depth and duration of apprenticeship schemes;
  • Improve the image of apprenticeships and vocational occupations to attract more young people into the sector;
  • Create an immigration system that brings skilled workers into the UK construction industry from the EU and further afield to fill key skilled roles with shortages.

Build more new homes:

  • The UK government should aim to build...
    • 20,000 new homes a year in England
    • 25,000 new homes a year in Scotland
    • 14,000 new homes a year in Wales
    • 11,000 new homes a year in Northern Ireland
  • The government should continue build on the recommendations of the 2017 Housing White Paper by working with the construction industry to increase housebuilding through SME builders.

Raise the standard of new and existing homes:

  • The government should commission a review of new homes warranties to confirm they are adequate to meet current housing demand.
  • A compulsory warranty on any domestic building work that requires Building Regs approval should be introduced.

Improve the energy efficiency of homes:

  • Reduce VAT from 20% to 5% for housing renovation or repair work to encourage installation of energy efficient measures.
  • Any government programmes aimed at reducing energy bills should be aimed primarily at improving the energy efficiency of British homes.

Grow UK construction SMEs:

  • Reduce regulatory red tape for SMEs as part of the Brexit process to encourage sector growth.
  • Improve the procurement process to make it fairer to SMEs - allowing local companies to win more local contracts when the UK leaves the EU.

FMB Chief Executive, Brian Berry, said: “The UK construction sector’s demand for skilled migrant workers from the EU and beyond cannot be overstated. In London alone, there are more than 157,000 non-UK construction workers constituting almost half of the industry’s workforce in the capital. Pre-Brexit, 60% of small construction firms are already having trouble hiring bricklayers and that’s before the UK abandons the free movement of people.

"If the next Government implements an inflexible immigration system that hinders the ability of talented foreign construction workers from making their way to the UK, any manifesto pledges relating to the delivery of housing and infrastructure will be rendered meaningless.”

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