Queens speech sparks industry reaction on construction
The Government must succeed in its aim to create millions of apprenticeships over the lifetime of this Parliament if it is to solve the housing crisis, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The new conservative government must deliver on housing and must create millions of apprenticeships over the next five years is targets are to be met on construction of new homes according to the FMB the legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech.
Sarah McMonagle, Head of External Affairs at the Federation of Master Builders commented:
“The new Government is right to bring forward legislation on both apprenticeships and housing in its first Queen’s Speech as one cannot succeed without the other. The 200,000 Starter Homes the Government wants built over the next five years quite simply won’t get off the ground unless we tackle the construction skills crisis. Our latest research shows that 50% of small local builders are struggling to hire bricklayers and this is a stark reminder of how the Government’s ambitions to build more new homes could be scuppered by a lack of skilled workers.”
“We are pleased to see that the Full Employment and Welfare Bill will allow for fuller scrutiny of how the Government is performing against its ambitious target of creating three million apprenticeships over the next five years. As the construction industry accounts for around 7% of GDP, it means our sector should conceivably be delivering 210,000 of these apprenticeships – or 42,000 a year which is a big ask, especially given that we only achieved 16,000 apprenticeship starts in our sector in 2013/2014. At the end of the last Parliament, the Government announced a new voucher model for apprenticeship funding and we’re keen to make sure this is suitable for small construction firms – if it’s not developed with small firms in mind, it could threaten their desire and ability to train apprentices.”
“From a construction SME perspective, we’re also keen to ensure the Enterprise Bill succeeds where others have failed and finally puts a nail in the coffin of late payment. Poor payment practices have plagued the construction industry for too long and we’re hopeful that widening the powers for representative bodies to act on behalf of their members to challenge grossly unfair payment terms will go some way to address this.”
The construction Industry training board CIOB is ready to engage with policy makers on the commitments laid out in the new Housing Bill, and the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill,.
Eddie Tuttle, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the CIOB commented:
“Whilst the CIOB welcomes efforts to simplify the neighbourhood planning system and increase the supply of Starter Homes through the Housing Bill, it is vitally important that there is an added emphasis on building design and quality.
“Although an extension of Right to Buy may provide real hope to individuals wishing to secure a place on the property ladder, the issue for policy makers is the number of annual new-builds. Our figures suggest that 200,000 Starter Homes are needed annually – in order to meet rising demand.
“Additionally the CIOB is pleased to see the government’s commitment to devolve more powers to local authorities; helping work towards full employment. This is positive news for the construction industry and with over 17,000 managers needed in the sector over the next four years; a career in the industry has the potential to deliver on the government’s aspirations.”
The (BPF) British Property Federation has made suggestions on a number of provisions within the new Bill:
- To increase the supply of new Starter Homes (to be exclusively offered to young first-time buyers, at a 20 per cent discount below their open market value)
- To introduce a statutory register for brownfield land, to help achieve the target of getting Local Development Orders in place on 90% of suitable brownfield sites by 2020.
- To simplify and speed up the neighbourhood planning system, to support communities that seek to meet local housing and other development needs through neighbourhood planning.
The chief executive Melanie Leech, of the British Property Federation, raised these points:
“It is welcome to see the announcement of a Housing Bill. The government has a huge task on its hands if it is to deliver enough new homes to house future generations, and must focus on supply-side solutions to meet demand. The devil will be in the detail, and there is an opportunity for innovative suggestions to drive forward supply.
“The Starter Homes initiative holds potential, but we have several questions around the realities of delivery and whether there will be sufficient infrastructure provision on the allocated sites.
“The focus on brownfield land is similarly positive, but we have doubts about how much suitable land will come to market. Local Development Orders are not the silver bullet and experience shows that they are costly for local authorities to produce.
“Neighbourhood planning changes are to be welcomed, particularly if they enable pro-growth, business-led neighbourhood plans to come forward with greater speed.”