Monday 7th March 2011 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Construction SMEs can help rebuild Northern Ireland by creating more jobs, supporting economic growth as well as creating a greener more sustainable economy if the Northern Ireland Assembly acts on three major challenges facing the construction sector, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Northern Ireland.
The FMB’s manifesto, ‘Building for Success’ which was launched today in Stormont calls on all politicians to support the building industry by adopting the FMB’s 18 point plan . Main speakers at the launch included Minister for Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson MP MLA and Conall McDevitt MLA.
Speaking at the Launch Maire Nawaz, Director of FMB Northern Ireland, said:
“We need to get Northern Ireland building again. The construction industry has now entered its fourth year of decline with Northern Ireland members reporting worse conditions than in any other part of the UK. Yet the building industry in Northern Ireland continues to employ more than 70,000 people and account for some £2.5 billion of economic activity each year. Construction is at the heart of so much of what Northern Ireland hopes to achieve in the years ahead including more homes, improved transport, better schools and hospitals. Therefore supporting growth in the construction industry must be a priority for the next Assembly.”
“FMB NI has identified three key challenges for the next Assembly. First the urgent need to retrofit our existing homes to help make them greener and more energy efficient. Small building firms can lead the transition to a low carbon economy but only if homeowners are incentivized to make their homes more energy efficient. Secondly, the need to develop our skills and training. If small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are to make our buildings more energy efficient they will need to upskill to meet the new challenges ahead. Northern Ireland’s politicians can encourage SMEs to train their employees by showing a strong commitment to ambitious retrofit initiatives like the Green New Deal. Finally, there is now an urgent need to create a new business environment without excessive control, regulation and taxation to allow small building firms to prosper.”
“Northern Ireland is at an important crossroads because the decisions taken over the next four years will have a profound and lasting impact on the economy. It is essential that after May’s election, ministers support and encourage the important contribution that small building firms make. All that is needed is the political will to ensure we build for success.”
Sammy Wilson MP MLA , Minister for Finance and Personnel, speaking at the launch said:
“It is widely acknowledged that a vibrant construction sector benefits the economy as a whole. In this regard engagement between government and the construction sector is critical to ensure that we recover from the current economic downturn. Government listens to industry views and understands the difficulties it is facing. We must consider practical means to address the issues and therefore the publication of these policy recommendations is welcomed.”
Speaking at the launch, Conall McDevitt MLA said:
“We need a budget that helps the construction industry rebuild itself, and which seeks to support and encourage building and construction in an environment which understands the needs of the sector. So many people in this region rely on the construction trade as a means of employment, and it is up to the Executive to ensure that the interests of this industry and its employees are considered and prioritized in this budget in order to reignite economic activity.”