From: Brian Berry, Chief Executive, Federation of Master Builders

The Queen’s Speech outlined the building blocks for recovery in the construction sector, but these measures must be targeted at small companies if the Government is to succeed in its aims.

Net Zero: I wholeheartedly welcome the Government’s renewed commitment to achieving net zero in today’s Queen’s Speech. But it urgently needs to back a long-term plan to retrofit our 28 million energy inefficient homes, if we are to have a hope in making this commitment a reality. The Construction Leadership Council’s National Retrofit Strategy provides an ‘oven-ready’ blueprint for how this can be achieved, and I would urge the Government to consider its recommendations in full if it wants to position the UK as a global leader in tackling climate change ahead of COP26. 

Skills: Crucial to the long-term certainty builders need is a robust commitment to training, and so I look forward to the detail of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill that will deliver the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. Skills shortages in construction have become endemic, with a third of builders routinely struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters. If we are to truly build back better and tackle significant issues such as climate change, then enhancing the UK’s skills and training environment is imperative. Improvements must seek to strengthen the links between employers and colleges, and encourage more employers to train. In the construction sector, local SME builders train 71% of all construction apprentices and must be at the heart of these plans.”

Planning: We won’t build the homes we need if we fail to diversify the housing market and reverse the decline of SME house builders, who built 40% of all new homes in the 1980s but only build 12% today. So the Government’s commitment to an updated planning system through the Planning Bill is good news. While greater flexibility, simplicity, and responsiveness are needed to tackle the barriers that 48% of small builders face with the planning system, we must not compromise the quality of the homes we build. New measures that make the planning system quicker and more affordable are welcome, but it is vital that high standards in design and build are not affected as a result, and that any overhaul doesn’t in fact add further delays.

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