010 RCI 0717

RCI July 2017

Zink INDUSTRY NEWS 01992 801927 www.almhm.co.uk 010 JULY 2017 RCIMAG.COM Copper Stainless On Wednesday, June 21, the Queen laid out the Government’s legislative programme over the next two years in her speech to Parliament. Below the BMF, UK-GBC and the FMB, set out its responses to the Queen’s Speech. Whilst the BMF and UKGBC respond positively to the Government’s housing, industrial and environmental policies, the FMB remains sceptical about the Government’s immigration policy, saying that the Government’s Immigration Bill must ensure that British business has access to sufficient levels of EU workers or major construction projects will grind to a halt. John Newcomb (right), Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF) managing director, said: “We welcome the clear statement in the Queen’s Speech that proposals will be brought forward to help ensure more homes are built. The Government has acknowledged that not enough homes are being built and that we need to build more of the right homes in the right places, and diversify who builds homes. Our understanding is that the Housing White Paper does not now require further legislation, so we would urge the Government to implement it as quickly as possible. “The BMF also welcomes the Government’s commitment to implementing the Industrial Strategy and the new Trade and Customs Bills which will enable our members to trade confidently and continue with their planned investments. The BMF favours an Industrial Strategy that showcases the construction industry, based on a clearly-defined, well-articulated mission to give it purpose, drive and direction. A resilient, functioning and enduring supply chain must be a core component if the Strategy is to succeed. “Our latest Builders Merchant Building Index shows that merchants experienced strong growth in the first quarter of 2017, with sales up 5.9% compared to the same time last year. This shows the vital role of builders, plumbers and timber merchants in delivering economic growth. Housing is not built, nor are homes repaired, extended or adapted, without the materials and products that BMF members deliver. We look forward to working with new ministers in the coming months.” Julie Hirigoyen (below), chief executive at UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC), said: “This Queen’s Speech highlighted the importance of certainty for businesses and reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to the Paris Agreement. The Clean Growth Plan must deliver this certainty and drive action on reducing carbon emissions. With Brexit top of the agenda, the Great Repeal Bill should not see a watering down of the environmental protections and climate policies we enjoy today as EU members. “We welcome the commitment to building the homes the country badly needs and the focus on modern methods of construction – which can deliver high-quality homes at the scale required. Sustainable construction has the potential to create high-skilled jobs and position the UK as a leader in low-carbon technology, so it must be placed at the heart of our Industrial Strategy.” Brian Berry (right), chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “In terms of today’s Queen’s Speech and the focus of British business, all eyes are on the Immigration Bill. As suspected, we now know that the Bill will end the free movement of people but that begs the question: what will replace it? The Government has not set out what our post-Brexit immigration system will look like, but it is crucial that key strategic industries such as construction are able to draw upon sufficient numbers of EU workers. EU tradespeople have come to play a crucial part in plugging the industry’s chronic skills gap and if the ability to employ non-UK workers is curtailed, the Government’s housing and infrastructure plans will be no more than a pipe dream.” Berry continued: “Already, we’re starting to see a dramatic drop-off in immigration from the kinds of countries that have typically supplied the construction sector with skilled talent. Statistics released today by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory show a 35% fall in the number of national insurance numbers being issued to nationals from the ‘EU8’ countries that joined the EU in 2004. A lack of certainty over what rights EU citizens will have in the country post- Brexit will undoubtedly be a factor behind this decline. Given the ongoing need to recruit from abroad, we need a clear message from the Government that non-UK skilled workers are welcome now, and will be welcome come what may.” Berry concluded: “The sector stands ready to work with MPs to shape the Immigration Bill into something that serves the economy and provides vital human resource to British business. The construction industry is also ready to significantly upscale the training and recruitment of UK construction workers so we welcome the recommitment to a proper industrial strategy and high skilled learning. In the longer term, being able to train more of our own workforce is without question part of the solution to our enduring skills deficit. Nevertheless, the Government must be pragmatic and introduce an immigration flexible system that allows skilled EU nationals to work in the UK with relative ease.” Queen’s Speech: The responses from the construction sector The Government’s decision to support the continuation of CITB is the right decision for our industry, but only if it is subject to fundamental reform, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Responding to a letter from Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton MP to CITB, Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “We now have some official indication of the Government’s position following its review of the CITB and the FMB supports the general direction of travel. Most people agree that the CITB had lost its way but scrapping it all together would only make the construction skills crisis worse. What we now want to see is for the CITB leadership to embrace a culture of change until we’ve reformed the organisation from head to toe.” Berry continued: “It’s slightly frustrating that we won’t see the detailed content of the Government’s CITB review until after the consensus process has come to an end. We are particularly keen to see some recommendations regarding the need for a governance review as the current structure is not fit-for-purpose. When you look at the make-up of our industry, 99% of firms are small and medium-sized (SME) companies but we don’t see that reflected on either the Board or the Council. We recognise and support the need for a streamlined Board of competencies but the CITB will continue to flounder until it is properly representative. For too long, major contractors have called the shots and although they have an important role to play, their role has been inflated – especially when you consider that it’s the small firms that carry out the bulk of the training in our industry.” Berry concluded: “Other important reforms include the need for employers and their trade federations to break away from the “tit for tat” mind set. The CITB levy and grant system is about each employer making a proportionate financial contribution towards the overall skills needs of the construction industry – it is not about individual organisations trying to draw down every penny it has paid in levy for their own gain. For the levy and grant system to work effectively in addressing the construction skills crisis, and for the industry to work constructively with the CITB exec, we need to break away from this detrimental mind-set.” FMB says CITB’s future is “dependent on fundamental change”


RCI July 2017
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