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Labour manifesto promises ‘change’

The Labour manifesto has been released and its commitments have been widely welcomed by the construction sector.

Promising changes to planning to help the construction of homes, whilst investment in energy and green technologies will take forward the infrastructure market, the pledges will see “decisive action” to improve building safety through new regulation.

For infrastructure, Kier Starmer has promised to develop a 10-year strategy to “guide investment plans and give the private sector certainty about the project pipeline”.

Justin Young, chief executive of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: “Labour is right in identifying planning reforms as a policy lever for boosting economic productivity in today’s manifesto, with numerous academic studies having found positive correlation between GDP growth and housebuilding completions. But the opportunities that arise from reform go well beyond housing. Legislation that makes the delivery of any infrastructure is welcomed; red tape is currently acting as a significant barrier to growth. One such example can be found in Cambridge, where the failure to deliver a new water reservoir is threatening to stall the UK’s fast-growing, £94bn-a-year life sciences industry, which has a critical mass in the city.

“As well as speeding up decision-making, planning reform is needed for our housebuilding sector to function efficiently, which is needed if build targets are to be met. Forty years ago, SME housebuilders were responsible for around 40 percent of housing delivery annually, but by 2024, that number is below 10 percent. To make matters worse, the number of SME housebuilders has decreased by 80% over the last 30 years. When taking these facts into account, it becomes very apparent why we continue to face a housing crisis and fall short of our housing targets. A simplification of the planning system – which is currently expensive to navigate and riddled with uncertainty – should help reverse this decline by delivering significant certainty.

“Policymakers must also address the skills shortage – otherwise the UK will be unable to deliver on its 300,000-homes-a-year target and £805 billion infrastructure pipeline. To overcome these challenges, RICS wants the incoming government, whoever that may be, to consider and implement workable policy solutions. We are calling for the creation of a cross-department skills taskforce, responsible for identifying gaps and opportunities in the workforce, as Labour has set out to do with their proposed Skills England body.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, echoed this sentiment, commenting: “Proposals to establish ‘Skills England’ offer hope to tackle the current skills crisis in the building industry. Pledges to boost apprenticeship numbers as well as Labour’s Warm Home Plan will be a major boost to rolling out retrofitting of homes across Britain. There is, however, potential to go further with the creation a dedicated Housing Department and a Secretary of State for Housing who can attend Cabinet meetings.”

Clive Bull from Daikin UK, comments on Labour’s manifesto: “We welcome Labour’s Warm Homes Plan to upgrade five million homes.

“By taking immediate, robust action to support households with the transition to low-carbon heating, we can significantly reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.  Labour’s ambitious plan to support households with investment for insulation, solar panels, and low-carbon heating solutions like heat pumps, would be a significant step towards the UK meeting its legally-binding commitment to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Sean Keyes, CEO of Sutcliffe: “The Labour Party’s pro-business manifesto is commendable. Businesses thrive on low inflation, financial stability, low taxes and a solid, steadily growing economy. A pro-business Labour government would allow us to focus on what we do best: building more homes to meet demand and achieve the targets outlined in Keir Starmer’s manifesto.

“I will hold Labour to the promise of surpassing the current house building levels, which so far has not been achieved in my lifetime and I do not want businesses to be taxed in hidden ways that will inevitably slow down economic growth. I am of the opinion that the Labour party will triumph on July 4th and we can address the housing shortage in this country, improving the quality of life for millions.”

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Image: Tennessee Witney /