Our monthly round up from the FMB Policy and Public Affairs team provides an update on our work to lobby central and devolved Governments. This year our work focuses on four key areas that we know are of importance to Master Builders – skills and training, climate change, quality in the built environment, and house building. Here’s what we’ve been working on:

We’re helping to improve training opportunities

The skills shortage will only be solved by training more construction apprentices and we are therefore looking at what policy is needed to better support builders to train.

  • According to the 2020 FMB member census, 50% of members said that the skills shortage would be the biggest constraint on their business. Responses to the FMB’s State of Trade Survey for Q4 2020 indicated that while the skills shortage eased during the pandemic, it is likely that recruitment will become more difficult as the economy recovers and workloads and productivity increase again.
  • The proposal for a general builder apprenticeship in England, developed by FMB members, has now been submitted to the Institute for Apprenticeships who will review it and decide whether it is taken forward. A group of FMB members have been working to develop the apprenticeship, which will incorporate bricklaying, plastering, carpentry and painting and decorating, and is predominantly aimed at small sites where there is a need for apprentices to be multi-skilled.
  • We met the Shadow Apprenticeships Minister for England to discuss the role of the Construction Industry Training Board, and to share members’ views on reform as set out in the FMB’s 2020 Trading Up report.
  • We continue to help contribute to finding solutions to the skills shortage as part of our involvement in the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which is a committee convened by Government to lead change in the construction industry in England. The CLC recently published its Skills Plan on behalf of the industry, which the FMB supports.

Read more about our work on skills shortage on our Skills and Training page.

We’re supporting small house builders

The housing market has played an important role in the past few months of supporting the economy and protecting jobs.

  • At the Spring Budget, the Chancellor announced a three-month extension to the Stamp Duty holiday for England and Northern Ireland, which we lobbied for, and the introduction of UK-wide Government guarantees for 95% mortgages to help people get on the housing ladder.
  • The Government has said that they want to diversify the housing sector by supporting SMEs and custom and self-build, but we’re campaigning for more action to be taken to make progress in this area as part of the Housing Diversification lobby group that looks at policy in England. Read more about custom and self-build in the upcoming April/May edition of Master Builder magazine
  • We met Conservative MP Andrew Lewer, who sits on the Housing Committee and chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for SME Housebuilders, to talk about how we can support his work on diversifying the housing market.
  • We also held a roundtable meeting with members of the FMB Home Builders Group and the Shadow Housing Secretary to talk about barriers to SME builders in England, and what policy or incentives are needed to accelerate the transition to net zero homes, but in a way that works for small developers.
  • We continue to meet twice a month with senior civil servants from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and Homes England, to brief them on key issues that are holding up the housing market.

Read more about our work to support SME house builders on our SME house building page.

We’re leading the development of a National Retrofit Strategy

We have led the development of a National Retrofit Strategy for England as part of our work with the CLC.

  • Following an industry wide consultation, the National Retrofit Strategy now has the backing of 50 organisations in construction and beyond. FMB Chief Executive Brian Berry was interviewed in Building magazine about the strategy, and the industry’s plans for lobbying on this issue.
  • The CLC has launched its CO2nstruct Zero campaign, supported by the FMB, which sets out nine key points for decarbonising the built environment in England. The National Retrofit Strategy forms part of this plan.
  • We met Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Oates, a member of Peers for the Planet, to brief him on the strategy and the need for builders to have long-term confidence in the retrofit pipeline. Lord Oates referenced the work of the FMB in a speech in the House of Lords.
  • We met Conservative MP Jerome Mayhew, who sits on the Environment Committee in Parliament. He was briefed on the findings of recent research, conducted on behalf of the FMB and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which looked at the impact of cutting VAT on home improvement works to 5% for a temporary 5-year period. This research shows that cutting VAT from 2021 to 2025 would generate a £51 billion economic stimulus and create almost 345,000 jobs in construction and the wider economy across the UK. This tax change would also help put more money in the pockets of homeowners to install green home upgrades.

Read more about our work to tackle climate change on our Retrofit and Energy Efficiency page.

We’re campaigning to improve quality in the built environment

We launched a campaign for licensing UK construction in 2018, following the publication of our report Licence to Build.

  • Over the past three years, a Licensing Task Force has met regularly to talk about what licensing should look like. At a meeting in February, the Task Force agreed that in the short-term, the priority should be to ensure that all Government investment into construction as part of a post-coronavirus stimulus package, should only go to companies that have an accreditation demonstrating their competence. The campaign for a wholesale mandatory licensing scheme continues in the longer-term.
  • We met Conservative backbencher Mark Garnier MP to talk about the issue of rogue builders and the damage it does to the building industry, as well as the impact on consumers. Mr Garnier was supportive of need for licensing and the campaign.

Read more about our work to raise quality and standards in construction on our Licensing UK construction page.