The response from the Government must be bolder if we are to build, build, build our way to recovery, argues the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), in response to the Spending Review this week.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Local builders stand ready to support a strong and green economic recovery, but the statement from the Chancellor today fell far short. We look to the National Infrastructure Strategy for more detail, but no mention in the Chancellor’s speech of low carbon homes or green jobs is unacceptable given the challenges we face. Confirmation of investment in further education and skills is welcome, as is the announcement of the National Infrastructure Bank. It’s important that local builders have access to both, if they are to provide the jobs, homes and growth the country needs coming out of the pandemic.”
On Net Zero:
Berry said: “We cannot meet our Net Zero carbon targets without improving the energy efficiency of our homes and moving to low carbon heat sources. Failure in this Spending Review to commit to a long-term retrofit strategy or to bring forward the £9.2bn promised in the Conservative manifesto will set the country back. Acknowledgement of the need to retrofit is one thing; but a plan must follow.”
On apprenticeships and training :
Berry continued: “SMEs train 71% of apprentices in construction and are ready to help support new jobs in the sector. While the confirmation of funding for further education, £375m through the life time skills guarantee, and a particular reference to apprenticeship changes to help SMEs are all steps in the right direction, colleges will need more support if we are to cover the existing gaps in traditional construction skills like bricklaying, let alone train people in much needed green construction techniques.”
On new build housing:
Berry concluded: “This year more than ever we have all appreciated how important it is to have a decent place to live. SME house builders stand ready to deliver more sustainable and beautiful homes, in each community and on small brownfield sites. I welcome the extra support from the Chancellor with the announcement of the National Home Building Fund and confirmation of Help to Build. Extra funding is welcome, but without urgent investment in our local authority planning departments to speed up decisions, projects are struggling to get off the ground.”