Today’s builders face new challenges not least how best to survive the worst economic crisis in decades. Coupled with this is the challenge of how to adapt our buildings to enable them to withstand the effects of climate change and create the low carbon built environment that the cross party consensus now demands. The built environment that FMB builders have helped to create and maintain has a key role to play in addressing these challenges by helping to create greener, more energy efficient buildings which will play their part in reducing the UK’s carbon emission levels. We are fortunate in this country to have a rich abundance of buildings and homes ranging from medieval churches, Georgian town houses, and Victorian terraces to the creation of today’s eco-friendly homes and offices. The link between the creation and maintenance of all our buildings is the local builder who wants the opportunity to help create the places where future generations will want to live and work.
Against this background the FMB presents its policy programme for the new Parliament which is focused on three key themes which we believe will help the UK weather the current economic storm and create the conditions for long term success. First, is the need to improve and develop the skills base in the construction sector; secondly, the need for a series of measures to promote a greener more sustainable built environment; and thirdly, the need to create an environment in which small building firms can thrive and prosper and play their part in rebuilding the economic success of the UK.
Our paper (FMB Building for Success, PDF 1.46 MB) explores each of these three themes and outlines a series of policy recommendations to translate our vision into reality. All that is needed is the political will to ensure we build for success and deliver the built environment that future generations will look on with pride.
FMB Policy Recommendations
Building for Success contains 20 policy recommendations which would translate our vision into a reality. They are:
Developing Skills and Training
1. Reform public procurement to ensure that only those contractors who employ apprentices are on approved procurement lists for all public sector work.
2. Provide targeted incentives to encourage more employers to train apprentices.
3. Ensure apprentices who commence their training programme before their 19th birthday should be funded at the 16-18 year old rate until they complete their level 3 apprenticeship.
4. Reform health and safety and insurance policies to allow those aged 19 and under to work on construction sites.
Building a Greener Britain
5. Establish mandatory refurbishment standards that are consistent with the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
6. Introduce financial incentives such as a reduction in Council Tax and cutting VAT to help kick-start the retrofitting of our existing housing stock and bring empty homes back into use.
7. Rationalise the HMRC tax treatment of energy efficient retrofitting measures.
8. Increase the number of recycling sites available for construction waste.
9. Make local authority recycling sites available for minor quantities of commercial waste.
10. Introduce incentives to encourage the reuse of construction materials.
Creating a New Business Environment
11. Reform the planning system to make it faster, simpler, and more efficient.
12. Create a new tariff system to replace both Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy.
13. Review the barriers that currently prevent potential house builders entering the market.
14. Develop new incentives such as ‘JESSICA’ to promote small scale new housing developments that focus on existing neighbourhoods, villages and towns.
15. Develop public-private partnerships that share both the risks and benefits of housing delivery.
16. Reinstate funding for the Worker Safety Advisor project.
17. Increase funding for Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors to ensure health and safety is properly enforced.
18. Reform Stamp Duty Land Tax and extend the threshold to £200,000 to kick start the housing market.
19. Review and reform public sector tendering practices.
20. Reinstate business rate relief on empty commercial property to help encourage regeneration and re-letting of vacant property.