Sector - Transport & Infrastructure
Spring Statement: Industry reacts
Following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, members of the construction industry are reacting to a number of his announcements which affect them; from the Future Homes Standard, to infrastructure funding, and the skills crisis.
On the Future Homes Standard, Gwyn Roberts, New Homes and Communities Lead at BRE said: “BRE welcomes the Chancellor’s proposal for a Future Homes Standard. We fully support the need for future-proofed new homes but don’t think we should wait until 2025 for them.
“We need high quality homes that are fit for the future and that address societal challenges, to be built now. BRE is supporting government and investors on their drive to improve quality in new home building for improved health and wellbeing and to reduce environmental impacts through our solutions such as Home Quality Mark certification.
“Delivering homes that are fit for the future is not only about Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction. As the Chancellor stated, we must also value our green infrastructure. A resilient, future- proofed home is one that is fit for all, that meets our changing climate, demographics and social needs and does not need to be retro-fitted. We must look at housing standards holistically and address the issues around permitted development. Everyone who buys or rents a new home must have a good experience.
“BRE’s data and analysis through the English Housing Survey shows that the cost to us all of poor housing, is high. The cost to the NHS alone is £1.4Bn each year.
“Ban Ki Moon, former General Secretary of UN said yesterday at MIPIM: “we should ensure that cities in the future will be sustainable, resilient, creative and dynamic by implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Ensure that all commercial and house building should be certified. Climate Change is no longer a debate it is a fact.”
“Supporting standards that are developed in the UK helps to position us as leaders on the world stage and in turn supports UK growth and the export of products and services internationally.”
On Infrastructure, David Harris, partner at property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard said: “Infrastructure, skills and housing were three areas the Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed needed investment in order to boost productivity. This is something I certainly agree with. Proper connectivity between towns and cities, an appropriately skilled workforce – promoting an equal gender balance – and housing to meet growing demand will position the country as a world leader and enable us to further compete in the global market.
“Since the removal of PFIs in the 2018 Budget, the government is now looking at how the country can benefit from private infrastructure investment, sorely needed to support future development and continued growth of our domestic and international economies.
A modern industrial strategy also means incorporating technology. The evolution of smart city development is proving to be a key contributor; optimising connectivity and harnessing the incredible potential available to us through real-time data, improving the lives of communities and the effectiveness of commerce.”
Simon Gooderham, joint managing partner, Cheffins, on housing said: “Whilst no one expected this Spring Statement to bring with it a raft of changes for the UK property industry, announced measures for increased funding for affordable homes is welcomed. In an area where affordability issues are reaching crisis point, the release of land for thousands of new homes in Cambridge hopefully ought to help allow the local younger generation to clamber onto the housing ladder.
“There have been too many reports of below standard housebuilding over the past few months and anything to help improve the quality and build of the UK’s new homes to ensure they are still fit for future generations are essential for the sustainable growth of the industry. In addition, any measures introduced in order to speed up housing delivery will be met with open arms as shortages of stock have reached unprecedented levels in parts of the UK.”
While Karen Jones, Group HR Director at Redrow, commented on Philip Hammond’s reform to the apprenticeship system: “I warmly welcome the Chancellor’s announcement today that co-investment levels will be cut to 5% for small businesses from 1 April, to support more small businesses to take on apprentices. A significant 59% of construction SMEs we asked in February this year said that this policy, when implemented, would lead to an increase in the number of apprentices employed in their business. Clearly, this move has the potential to boost apprenticeship numbers across the sector.
“But we want to see even more apprentices coming up through the system, and there is still more the government can do to help. Crucially, the government should consider expanding the remit for what levy funds can be used for. Vital aspects of hiring an apprentice, such as wages, statutory licences to practise, travel and subsidiary costs, as well as the costs for setting up an apprenticeship programme, are all the burden of the SME business. Introducing this flexibility would significantly ease the financial load of the small businesses themselves.
“With their entrepreneurial streak, apprentices represent the future of SMEs in this country, so it’s vital that we help construction SMEs operating in the UK to take on and train more, and that industry and educators are providing rigorous information to young people which helps direct the right people onto the right apprenticeship.”
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