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FMB back Labour’s plan to link housing and skills

The Federation Of Master Builders has given its support to the Labour Party’s proposal to link up housing and skills policy.

Labour has pledged to build one million new homes, including 100,000 council and housing association homes by the end of the next Parliament through the creation of a new Department of Housing. Rises in rent would also be capped to inflation and legal minimum standards in properties for rent.

In its manifesto, Labour said it supported the Apprenticeship Levy but would take measures to ensure apprenticeships are of a high quality.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said the policy was “the right approach” to overcoming both the housing shortage and skills gap.

He said: “The commitment to doubling the number of NVQ Level 3 apprenticeships by 2020 will be well-received by small construction firms. The sense of a decline in the standard of construction apprenticeships has reduced the attractiveness of taking on apprentices for many SMEs.

“SME construction firms still carry out two thirds of all apprenticeship training and nearly three quarters of construction SME bosses say they would be more likely to take on an apprentice if the standards to which apprentices are trained improved. A higher level skills base is key to increasing the UK’s productivity which trails behind other leading economies.”

Mr Berry welcomed Labour’s plans to deliver its targets on house building through its National Transformation Fund but raised concerns about how to tackle the issue of industry capacity.

He said: “Whichever party is in government after the General Election, a council house building programme would be a catalyst for boosting the capacity of the SME house building sector. This would follow the recommendations of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee last year, which identified the sector’s vulnerability to the economic cycle as being a constant danger to the overall capacity of the house building industry.

“Ensuring that public sector house building contracts are opened up to SMEs is one key way the Government can buck the usual boom and bust economic cycle and maintain house building capacity.”

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