INDUSTRY BODIES REPRESENTING construction have today called on the newly-elected Conservative government to deliver on its manifesto pledges to increase housebuilding.
The manifesto sets the target of building a million new homes across England in the next parliament, with the target of increasing housebuilding to 300,000 homes each year by the middle of the 2020s.
James Talman, CEO of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) said: “The National Federation of Roofing Contractors, the UK’s largest roofing trade body, congratulates the new government and looks forward to it fulfilling its commitment to investing in construction, which has been neglected for too long. We hope that a majority government will help to put an end to the political uncertainty that has stalled investment decisions, and it is now essential that the UK puts construction at the forefront of any new trade deals, in order to encourage the much-needed finance of new projects.
“With increasing public scrutiny of the quality and safety of buildings, now is the time for government to also back the industry’s drive to improve competency, which includes the development of the RoofCERT accreditation scheme, by stipulating that only qualified specialist installers are used on all government and public construction projects.
“We also urge that it ends cash retentions by 2023, following the Construction Leadership Council’s endorsement of the industry’s Zero Retentions Roadmap, which will be critical to creating a more sustainable business model for the whole construction supply chain.
“The NFRC’s commitment to improving standards and pay conditions within the roofing industry are among the key issues contained within eight key focus areas of its new strategy and policy document ‘The Way Ahead’, with others including innovation, sustainability and attracting new talent.”
Nick Boulton, chief executive of the Trussed Rafter Association (TRA) said: “Throughout the election campaign, a consistent need raised by people in all communities across the country was the need for more, and better, housing.
“The Conservatives pledged to tackle that, promising measures to help first-time buyers and boost new housebuilding, targeting the delivery of at least a million more new homes over the next five years.
“While lower than their previous target from 2017, which had been to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, it is probably more realistic given the severe skills shortages in the sector. What matters now is delivery on those promises.
“Housebuilding fulfils a basic social and public need, but also stimulates a vital supply chain of goods, skills and materials to act as a multiplier across the economy. While we all recognise that Brexit will once again dominate the agenda next year, we are urging the new government to also use its first 100 days to tackle the housing crisis through rapid planning reforms, support for more affordable housing development via local councils, fast progress with the regulatory changes on fire safety, and continued support for high quality MMC.
“In particular, we will also continue to push for major new housebuilding programmes in 2020 to be tied to the UK’s zero carbon targets. The timber supply chain in construction is ready and waiting to support this, solving problems across multiple policy areas.”
Carlton Jones, Director, MCRMA, said: “Throughout 2019 business has been adversely affected by uncertainty regarding the outcome of Brexit and this has remained a key constraint on growth. However, today’s result will engender an upsurge in business optimism, which can only be of benefit to the construction industry as both the public and private sector will look to proceed with projects that have been on hold for some time.
“In addition, it is imperative that a favourable trade deal regarding imports of materials, such as steel and aluminium coil and chemicals is concluded as quickly as possible to capitalise on the current wave of optimism.”
Modern methods of construction
The manifesto also included pledges to support modern methods of construction and support high rise residential residents with the removal of unsafe cladding.
RIBA President, Alan Jones, said: “Many people will remember this as the ‘Brexit election’. The Conservatives must now deliver on their promise to resolve the political crisis which has been paralysing wider society and the economy.
“The RIBA has been clear that this involves developing trade deals which allow practices to access talent, goods and services, and will welcome further detail on how this will be achieved.
“The new government must bring the country together by turning promises into action. We need critical investment to solve the housing crisis through high-quality planning and homes, initiatives to tackle climate change and complete reform of our fire and building safety regulations to keep people safe.”
Support for small builders
The Conservatives have also pledged to support more self and community built properties, as well as reform the planning process to make it easier for individuals and small builders.
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.
“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.”
Hew Edgar, RICS Head of UK Government Relations and City Strategy, said: “We congratulate Mr Johnson on his election win; and hope that his Government provides the stability the UK’s built environment craves, as well as the attention it needs and deserves. For too long, domestic issues have been side-lined by the Brexit debate, and this has negatively impacted investment and growth in land, property and construction.
“It is imperative that key issues, such as housing supply, high street and town centre renewal and climate change are a top priority for this Government. RICS will work with the new administration to ensure that these issues are tackled, in consideration of the social and environmental impact that any policy or legislation might have.”
Many manifestos included mentions of climate change, with the Conservatives in particular pledging to build more environmentally friendly homes.
Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UK Green Building Council said: “As we look back on the results of this 2019 election, we may well refer to it as the first UK election that had the climate crisis at its heart. No longer the preserve of a single party or associated with any one shade of the political spectrum, we know that voters of all political persuasions care about tackling climate change, and every single manifesto had climate promises in response.
“Whatever happens now with Brexit, it is essential that our environmental protections are preserved and further strengthened. 2020 must kick off a decade of unprecedented climate action and the built environment must be at the forefront of that. With COP 26 being hosted in Glasgow, we have a unique opportunity to go further, faster and for the UK to lead on the transition to a green economy.”