The coronavirus is a national tragedy that has devastated lives and livelihoods in every community in the country.
It has brought FMB members together to work through shared struggles, and pool our energies as we plan the path, tentatively, towards recovery.
As Master Builders have risen to the challenge of adjusting to the ‘new normal’ way of working, the FMB’s thoughts are turning to how we can support economic recovery while continuing to manage the risk of the virus.
As a nation we can build back better, and I believe strongly that this must mean supporting the small to medium-sized (SME) firms in construction that account for over 99% of our industry.
As was the case in 1941 when the Federation of Master Builders was established to help rebuild homes after the London Blitz, the country faces a new challenge and builders will once again play a key role.
Government interventions have helped firms to keep going during the lockdown, but while the market remains uncertain it is important that policies are in place to back builders and protect jobs.
The FMB wants to see four key steps to a recovery plan for builders.
The first element is a National Retrofit Strategy that would involve the Government investing in energy efficiency repair and improvements to the UK’s poorly insulated homes. This key RMI work to deliver these energy savings for homeowners would be carried out by our nation’s army of local builders and would be helped with a temporary VAT cut on these works. Making our buildings more heat, energy and water efficient is central to achieving legal targets to cut carbon emissions, tackle fuel poverty, and improve health.
Second, we need to build more, better quality homes, and SME house builders should be instrumental to increasing delivery, especially on small sites. The FMB is calling for a more manageable planning system, and greater availability of affordable land for small scale development.
Third, we need to increase the quality and number of apprentices being trained in the industry. The majority of FMB members started out as apprentices, and without training we cannot ease the skills shortage, or future-proof the industry, especially with the changes to the immigration system that are planned.
Finally, the FMB is passionate about bringing forward a licensing scheme that ensures rogue and cowboy builders are barred from operating in our industry. Master Builders shouldn’t be competing against dodgy firms that bring the industry into disrepute.
Read the FMB’s Programme for Government which sets out our aims.
A longer version of this article was first published in Building Magazine.
Do you want to know more about this campaign or are you an FMB member and would like to get involved? Then please email our policy team.