The Federation of Master Builders

Supporting post-lockdown economic recovery

The FMB is representing your views within the UK, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland Governments, to ensure that plans for delivering economic recovery post-lockdown have local builders at their heart.


Did you know?

The value of construction

Investing in local builders helps generate positive returns across the whole economy.

The coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact on Master Builders

state of trade survey statistics

We consistently speak for Master Builders, and the challenges you face, across four key areas

  • Addressing the skills shortage and training apprentices
  • Helping to grow the repair, maintenance and improvement market
  • Removing barriers for SME house builders to bring forward more homes
  • Consistently driving up standards in construction

We’ve been calling for support for you based on these areas.


Lulu Shooter
Head of Policy and Public Affairs
E: [email protected]
T: 020 7025 2934


Ifan Glyn
Senior Hub Director, FMB Cymru
E: [email protected]
T: 01443 843668


Gavin McGuire
Director, FMB Northern Ireland
E: [email protected]
T: 028 9446 0416


Gordon Nelson
Director, FMB Scotland
E: [email protected]
T: 0131 442 8834

Skills and Training

Retaining tradespeople in the industry

We know that getting skilled people on site is the biggest constraint on members’ output and business growth. The impact of the coronavirus risks making the skills shortage in construction even worse. Supporting recovery in the building industry therefore means helping with job retention and keeping tradespeople in the industry.

How are we representing your views?

  • We sit on the Construction Leadership Council’s Coronavirus Task Force. The Task Force brings together leading industry organisations to formulate a joint response to the crisis. As part of this, we have helped develop the UK Construction Talent Retention Scheme. This scheme aims to support workers at risk of redundancy by finding them work elsewhere in the industry. See our summary of the Summer Statement and what it means for builders more information.
  • FMB Scotland sits on the Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Group on skills. Since the crisis, the group has been liaising with the Scottish Government on how to keep talented workers in the construction industry. We have also highlighted the value of the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement sector to the Scottish Government as it develops a recovery plan for the construction industry.
  • FMB Northern Ireland sits on the SW College Industrial advisory board on skills. Over the last few years Northern Ireland has faced an ongoing challenge of having people with skills being pulled away to other UK regions with better rates. We work with the Department of Finance and Department of Economy on providing a stronger local market to keep families and tradespeople in the Industry here. We also sit on a CITB NI advisory group working on upskilling for future changes.


Local builders train the majority of apprentices in the construction industry. However, when business owners are navigating turbulent economic times, investment in apprenticeships and training can understandably be something that gets postponed.

How are we representing your views?

  • We published a report, based on survey responses, entitled ‘Trading Up’. This set out your views on some of the challenges you face when training apprentices.
  • To represent members in England, we’re talking to skills advisors in No. 10 about what more can be done to help builders train.
  • From September 2021, new construction qualifications will be taught in Wales signifying the biggest shake-up to qualifications in the sector for a generation. The developing of these qualifications started back in 2016 and FMB Cymru has been closely consulted every step of the way to ensure that the new qualifications meet the skills requirements of members. 
  • In Scotland we have been working with the CITB and Colleges Scotland on the Scottish Construction Apprentice Taskforce to develop solutions on keeping apprentices currently in training, as well as help employers recruit new apprentices in 2020 and 2021.
  • In Northern Ireland we sit on the Built Environment Research Group looking at frameworks for future apprenticeship programs. This ties in schools, employers and colleges. We are the only non academic member of the FE Colleges Construction Hub group. At the recent 2020 apprenticeship week we exhibited at nine events as well as sponsoring a First Women In Construction Summit to encourage a more diverse workforce.

Creating opportunities in the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement sector

Cutting the VAT

64% of FMB members say that the single biggest change the Government could make to help them recovery from the impact of the coronavirus would be cutting Vat on repair, maintenance and improvement to 5%.  Independent research carried out on behalf of the FMB has found it would create a significant economic stimulus and create new jobs.

How are we representing your views?

  • As part of the UK Construction Leadership Council’s Industry Recovery Plan, the FMB has been asked to lead the domestic repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) workstream that will look at how we can implement this recovery plan in this sector. All parties that feed into this work agree that cutting VAT would boost growth. We’ll be writing to the Chancellor ahead of the Autumn Budget to suggest this policy.
  • In Scotland we have co-operated with others on the
    Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV) forum and won approval for research to be conducted on the feasibility of a VAT rebate system being run within Scotland. The VAT rebate would apply for domestic repair, maintenance and improvement works in Scotland, in the event that the Chancellor fails to cut VAT to 5%.
  • As an influential member of the Northern Ireland Construction Group we have galvanised support for this campaign from all the other main bodies. The need for such as program has been presented to the Ministers for the Economy and Finance as well as numerous Members of the Legislative Assembly in discussions.

A national energy efficiency retrofit programme

The UK Government has made a legal commitment to achieving net zero carbon by 2050. In order to achieve this, we need to decarbonise our homes and buildings. This represents a significant area of work for local builders, installing insulation, double glazing and new heating technologies. Public investment is needed to boost this market.

How are we representing your views?

  • As part of our work leading recovery in the domestic RMI sector, we are building consensus in industry that we need a national plan, backed by public investment, for the energy efficiency retrofit of our existing homes and buildings.
  • FMB Cymru is heavily involved in the development and implementation of a housing retrofit strategy for Wales. We sat on the group that put together the ‘Better Homes, Better Wales, Better World’ report, which put forward a set of recommendations to Welsh Government on the measures required which was published in July 2019. We currently sit on a group tasked with implementing the recommendations.
  • The Climate Change Bill commits Scotland to a target of net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. In Scotland we sit on the quality and skills working group of the Energy Efficiency Scotland programme. We have also submitted views to the Scottish Government that a key area for the construction recovery plan for Scotland, must include supporting retrofitting and improvements to the quality and energy efficiency of our homes.
  • Sadly due to historic issues around green schemes, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) as an example, Northern Ireland sits behind all other UK regions in addressing this. Along with RICS we have been working on raising awareness on these key issues as well as consulting on an evidence paper from Dept Of Economy. A green build program Conference had to be cancelled in May due to COVID.

Removing barriers to SME house builders


Investing in the housing market is a recognised means of supporting recovery in the wider economy. Now, more than ever, we know that our homes are a key part of our potential productivity and learning abilities. Reversing the decline in SME house builders is a cornerstone of the FMB’s agenda for improving the quality of our housing stock, and ensuring that we have a more resilient market.

How are we representing your views?

  • In England, we have been holding private monthly meetings with the Housing Minister to give feedback on how the virus has been impacting on your operations and to discuss what needs to be done to ringfence recovery. We know that the planning system needs greater investment and reform in order to unlock additional new homes.
  • FMB Cymru sits on the Welsh Government House Builders Engagement Group, where FMB house building members and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) are given an opportunity to discuss industry pertinent matters with the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales and the Minister for Housing and Local Government. We also sit on the Self-Build Wales Board and are currently working closely with Welsh Government and the Welsh Procurement Alliance on developing a Dynamic Purchasing System to be used for the construction of tens of thousands of council houses.

  • FMB Scotland we contributed to a report which lists a range of actions that would remove barriers to small-scale house builders. FMB Scotland is also on a Scottish Government working group exploring how zero emissions from heating in new build homes could be achieved. 

  • FMB Northern Ireland sits as part of Belfast City Councils Regeneration and City Deal Planning. Previous FMB reports into small site development and homes on the high street have been used to highlight opportunities.  We have also secured the rights to Grant Aided Works to be carried out by warranted builders only. 

  • FMB Northern Ireland has also maintained FMB’s accreditation on a par with Construction line for public works contracts up to value of £30,000. This again has profiled our commitment to quality as well as being a positive for members.

Driving up standards

Late payment

Late payment and the abuse of retentions is holding back reinvestment in the construction industry, and is linked to downward pressure on prices and, as a result, quality.

How are we representing your views?

  • We sit on the Construction Leadership Council’s Coronavirus Task Force. This Task Force brings together leading industry organisations to formulate a joint response to the crisis. As part of this, we are discussing with other bodies as to how we can tackle the abuse of retentions and late payment in the supply chain. Members of the FMB can also download template contracts in the tackle late payment in the private domestic sector.
  • We gave written and oral evidence to a Welsh Parliament consultation on retentions in construction in October 2019. We continue to lobby for meaningful change.
  • We completed a Scottish Government consultation on the use of retentions in the construction industry. In this we highlighted what the negative consequences are for our members of late payment and the abuse of retentions.
  • As past chair of NICG we have been working with the Government on more use of project bank accounts as well as keeping the supply chain more accountable for late payments. Along with the Specialist Engineering Contractors' (SEC) group we are lobbying hard with key public sector Departments to set the lead in good practice.

Licensing UK construction firms

  • We are leading the campaign to introduce a mandatory licensing scheme for UK construction firms. The objective is that investment in construction as a means of supporting wider economic recovery will be of a high quality by removing the small minority of rogue traders that tarnish the reputation of the wider industry. See our dedicated licensing website to read more about this campaign.
  • After lobbying the Welsh Conservatives, they agreed to work with the UK Government to implement a licensing system for construction and committed to this in their Housing a Nation report.
  • We sit on the building standards futures board that is working to improve the performance, expertise, resilience and sustainability of the Scottish building standards services. The board is also exploring how a licensing scheme for UK construction firms would operate within Scotland.
  • We have FMB member representation on a key building control focus group. This we believe will be very influential in the months ahead as Northern Ireland improves the current standards. As part of this program we have continued to highlight the need for a licensing scheme as well as external warranties for project.

Please email [email protected] and tell us what policy changes would help ensure a sustainable pipeline of work and resources for your firm. 

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