October is Political Party Conference month, and this year the Federation of Master Builders were busy at both the Conservative and Labour Party events, making sure the views of our Members were heard by the most senior policy makers and industry representatives.
While the Party Leaders’ speeches may generate the national media headlines, it is at the Fringe Events where much of the real work gets done. For the FMB, the Party Conferences are an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that our Members do and, with a General Election coming up next year, we have been working hard to help shape the debate on building and construction policy in the UK going forward.
Chief Executive of the FMB, Brian Berry was invited to speak on panels by organisers of events at both conferences, taking part in panel discussions, which were packed out by industry experts, political activists, journalists and policy makers.
Speaking alongside the Government’s Housing Minister Rachel Maclean MP at the Conservative Party Conference, Brian made the case for how we can unlock the UK’s housing potential and deliver sustainable homes, calling for greater investment in local authority planning teams, improved communication and transparency by planning teams, and the inclusion of SME house builders in local development plans.
Meanwhile at the Labour event he took part in a panel discussion with the Metro Mayor for the West of England Dan Norris, looking at the plans which Sir Keir Starmer has announced to get Britain Building Again.
Brian was keen to highlight the concerns which our members have raised throughout the year, on issues such as the barriers created by the current Planning System, the difficulties SME builders experience due a lack of viable and available land, and the significant skills shortages which the UK faces.
Elsewhere Brian met with the Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, where he reiterated the growing national support for increased housing, and stressed the importance of SME Housebuilders in delivering the homes that Britain needs. He also spoke with Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister Matthew Pennycook about the need for planning and housing reform to allow SMEs to deliver the homes the country needs, and held constructive meetings with a number of other backbench MPs.
Party Conferences also provide a platform for discussions within the building and construction industry, and the FMB were able to meet with representatives of organisations including the National Housing Federation, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, and the Chartered Institute of Building, to discuss how we can work with them to deliver positive change for our industry.
Ahead of next year’s General Election, with both Parties currently in the process of putting together their manifestos which will set out their key priorities for the next five years, now is a crucial period in ensuring that the views of SME Builders are heard loud and clear. The past fortnight has been a great success for the FMB in getting our vital message across, and we are now starting to look forward to an exciting period ahead.