Industry Reaction to Queen’s Speech

Industry Reaction to Queen’s Speech

The Government must succeed in its aim to create millions of apprenticeships over the lifetime of this Parliament if it is to solve the housing crisis, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Commenting on the legislation announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, Sarah McMonagle, Head of External Affairs at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said:

“The new Government is right to bring forward legislation on both apprenticeships and housing in its first Queen’s Speech as one cannot succeed without the other. The 200,000 Starter Homes the Government wants built over the next five years quite simply won’t get off the ground unless we tackle the construction skills crisis. Our latest research shows that 50% of small local builders are struggling to hire bricklayers and this is a stark reminder of how the Government’s ambitions to build more new homes could be scuppered by a lack of skilled workers.”

McMonagle continued:

“We are pleased to see that the Full Employment and Welfare Bill will allow for fuller scrutiny of how the Government is performing against its ambitious target of creating three million apprenticeships over the next five years. As the construction industry accounts for around 7% of GDP, it means our sector should conceivably be delivering 210,000 of these apprenticeships – or 42,000 a year which is a big ask, especially given that we only achieved 16,000 apprenticeship starts in our sector in 2013/2014. At the end of the last Parliament, the Government announced a new voucher model for apprenticeship funding and we’re keen to make sure this is suitable for small construction firms – if it’s not developed with small firms in mind, it could threaten their desire and ability to train apprentices.”

McMonagle concluded:

“From a construction SME perspective, we’re also keen to ensure the Enterprise Bill succeeds where others have failed and finally puts a nail in the coffin of late payment. Poor payment practices have plagued the construction industry for too long and we’re hopeful that widening the powers for representative bodies to act on behalf of their members to challenge grossly unfair payment terms will go some way to address this.”

Steve Radley, Director of Policy at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), said:

“It’s great to see the Government setting out its ambition for three million more apprenticeships. Employers and Government now need to get together to work out how to deliver it.

“The potential for developing skills and providing careers for the next generation is enormous but we will only achieve this by setting out bold new ways to get there. This means finding better ways to attract new entrants, developing more desirable models for learners and employers and working with providers to help them deliver the training that industry needs.

“We look forward to working with Government and employers to help deliver on this bold ambition.”

The British Property Federation (BPF) has commented on a number of provisions within the Bill:

  • To increase the supply of new Starter Homes (to be exclusively offered to young first-time buyers, at a 20 per cent discount below their open market value)
  • To introduce a statutory register for brownfield land, to help achieve the target of getting Local Development Orders in place on 90% of suitable brownfield sites by 2020.
  • To simplify and speed up the neighbourhood planning system, to support communities that seek to meet local housing and other development needs through neighbourhood planning.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, commented:

“It is welcome to see the announcement of a Housing Bill. The government has a huge task on its hands if it is to deliver enough new homes to house future generations, and must focus on supply-side solutions to meet demand. The devil will be in the detail, and there is an opportunity for innovative suggestions to drive forward supply.

“The Starter Homes initiative holds potential, but we have several questions around the realities of delivery and whether there will be sufficient infrastructure provision on the allocated sites.

“The focus on brownfield land is similarly positive, but we have doubts about how much suitable land will come to market. Local Development Orders are not the silver bullet and experience shows that they are costly for local authorities to produce.

“Neighbourhood planning changes are to be welcomed, particularly if they enable pro-growth, business-led neighbourhood plans to come forward with greater speed.”

With the announcements in today’s speech already documented, the CIOB is keen to engage with policy makers on the commitments laid out in the Housing Bill, the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, and discuss, in greater detail, the government’s full employment agenda.

Eddie Tuttle, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager said:

“Whilst the CIOB welcomes efforts to simplify the neighbourhood planning system and increase the supply of Starter Homes through the Housing Bill, it is vitally important that there is an added emphasis on building design and quality.

“Although an extension of Right to Buy may provide real hope to individuals wishing to secure a place on the property ladder, the issue for policy makers is the number of annual new-builds. Our figures suggest that 200,000 Starter Homes are needed annually – in order to meet rising demand.

“Additionally the CIOB is pleased to see the government’s commitment to devolve more powers to local authorities; helping work towards full employment. This is positive news for the construction industry and with over 17,000 managers needed in the sector over the next four years; a career in the industry has the potential to deliver on the government’s aspirations.”

The CIOB continues to highlight the socio-economic importance of the construction industry through its guide to the built environment and will continue to work with policy makers to promote the sector.

Steve Errington, Chief Executive of Story Homes, commented on the Housing Bill, saying:

“Story Homes welcomes the Government’s plans for Starter Homes which will help to provide more houses for first-time buyers – who are the lifeblood of the housing market.
“How these homes are restricted to specific housing schemes needs to be looked at carefully however.

“Too many restrictions may see too few sites being developed to meet the criteria for Starter Homes. If not enough properties are developed they will obviously make a limited impact on the housing market.

“The Government needs to make sure that these schemes are viable in terms of the market value homes available for sale, and the development sites which can be used for these properties, to make sure developers come on board to build them.

“The plans announced to increase the housing supply, through making development on brownfield land, easier are very welcome.

“The question mark over brownfield sites is always one of viability because of the sometimes onerous planning and clean-up costs involved.

“A streamlined planning process through the Local Development Order process is welcome, as is the potential to work in partnership with local authorities to ensure the identified sites work from a developer’s point of view.

“Unlocking brownfield land is a very positive move. However the shortfall of new housing supply will not be fulfilled with brownfield land alone.”

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