Industry responds to Conservative election victory

Nick Boulton, chief executive of the Trussed Rafter Association, highlighted the need for 'more and better' housing

Building new homes, eliminating carbon in our housing stock and finally ending the “crippling uncertainty” should be key priorities for Boris Johnson following his historic Conservative election victory, according to some of the UK’s key construction trade associations.

The BMF, FMB and the NFRC are among the first roofing and construction trade associations to react to the Conservative party’s landslide general election win, which delivered the strongest Conservative performance at the polls since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 triumph.

Describing the recent uncertain climate as ‘toxic’ for the construction sector, Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, believes the new Conservative government has a “golden opportunity to sort out Brexit”.

Identifying “the homes and infrastructure that this country needs” as “a key priority to help drive the economy forward”, he calls the government to “back small builders”, by implementing measures such as the promised £3bn National Skills Fund and a licensing scheme for the whole UK construction industry.

Elsewhere, James Talman, CEO of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) said “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.” 

He also urged Boris Johnson’s government to back the industry’s drive to improve competency and end cash retentions by 2023, stating that the industry’s Zero Retentions Roadmap “will be critical to creating a more sustainable business model for the whole construction supply chain”.

Elsewhere, Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) CEO, John Newcomb, called on Conservative leaders to look “beyond Brexit” in order to set the conditions for a more productive, greener sector, which in turn will protect and create vital jobs across the UK.

He said: “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.”

In a similar vein, Nick Boulton, chief executive of the Trussed Rafter Association (TRA), highlighted the consistent need for “more and better” housing, urging the Conservatives to deliver on their promises to help first-time buyers and boost new housebuilding.

Nick said: “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.

This view was echoed by Neil Marshall, spokesperson for the National Insulation Alliance, a new representative body for the Insulation Industry, who said: “We welcome the new government’s ambitious commitment to insulate the UK housing stock and stand ready to advise and support it in delivering on this commitment… Our industry has the skills, expertise and capacity to deliver and welcome the opportunity to work with the new ministers in insulating millions of homes and businesses across the UK. Insulating the nation provides the opportunity for huge inward investment and job creation, exactly the type of stimulus needed post Brexit.”