Industry urges support for merchants and home improvements

Both the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) and National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) have issued calls to potential new Governments to support their respective causes in the upcoming election.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has written to each of the major political parties asking them to commit to action in three crucial areas:

1. Action on air quality – where it believes the current Government’s air quality proposals, released last Friday, missed a golden opportunity to modernise the use of larger vehicles in cities

2. Progress towards a customs agreement based on low or zero tariffs after Britain leaves the European Union

3. A commitment to ensure that the construction industry has skilled people in place to keep Britain building

Commenting on the call John Newcomb, MD of the BMF, said: “These three policies are supported by BMF members and it is vital that they are implemented by the next Government.

“Unlike private motorists, merchants have no choice but to use commercial diesel vehicles to deliver to customers. We are asking the next Government to support SMEs with a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme to modernise and replace old lorries, trucks and vans with cleaner, greener models in order to improve air quality.

“Leaving the Customs Union without a comprehensive UK-EU free trade agreement will unsettle business confidence and planned investments, with severe consequences for merchants and building materials manufacturers. We are asking all parties to commit to negotiating a mutually-beneficial new customs agreement based on zero or low tariffs to avoid uncertainty for affected businesses.

“BMF members create meaningful jobs in every constituency. More apprentices are central to this and more needs to be done to redress the parity of esteem between academic and vocational training. We are asking all parties to commit to improving technical education, and to work with schools and parents to promote our industry, and others like it, to young adults who are not considering university.”

The National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) has made its called in the form of an industry-led manifesto outlining five key areas it feels the next UK Government should focus on alongside negotiating Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The NHIC wants all political parties to clearly establish in their manifestos how they would work with industry to overcome some of the fundamental challenges currently faced by the country, including not only the need to build more quality energy efficient homes, but also how to improve the quality of our existing housing stock.

Anna Scothern, executive director of the NHIC, said: “Great Britain is one of the richest countries in the world, yet 4.5 million families still live in fuel poverty. The National Home Improvement Council believes that no individual or family should have to make ‘heat or eat’ choices each winter.

“27% of the UK’s CO2 emissions come from our existing 26 million homes and while demand for housing continues to rise with new house building failing year-on-year to meet the established government target of 1 million new homes by 2020, refurbishment, repair and maintenance must be an essential part of the new Government’s overall housing strategy.”