The National Federation of Builders (NFB) held its sixth annual conference on Wednesday at County Hall in Westminster, London.
The conference entitled ‘Making a success of UK construction’ was hosted by broadcaster and journalist Cathy Newman for the fourth consecutive year.
Dominic Williams, Communities and Local Government Unit Portfolio Holder of the FSB, opened this years conference, highlighting the important role that SMEs play in the economy especially within regional communities.
At the heart of the challenge facing the construction industry is the need to attract new workers and improve training and skills. Former MP Neil Carmichael addressed the need to reform and spearhead technical education, in order to tackle the UK’s skills shortage. He said: ‘We need to create a real centre of growth in regional cities and young people need to know what the work opportunities are within the industry. This requires businesses of all types to work with colleges and schools. It is essential to broaden school curriculum.’
Jemma Bridgeman, Wales Manager of Construction Youth Trust, Councillor Nicola Beech, cabinet member for Spatial Planning and City Design, Bristol City Council and Kathleen Henehan, Research and Policy Analyst from the Resolution Foundation, focussed on how construction can deliver the skills needed for a successful industrial strategy.
With the Chancellor wishing to see 300,000 new homes being delivered each year by the mid-2020s, the housing panelists at the confernece agreed that underfunding of planning authorities is a major barrier to increasing supply. In the budget, Philip Hammond also announced more support for SMEs as he vowed to increase the current Homebuilding Fund. Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor for Communities, Bristol City Council stated that: ‘SMEs have an important part to play in keeping Britain building.’
Reflecting on the budget, the Housing Builders Association (HBA) – the house-building division of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) welcomed many of the announcements.
Rico Wojtulewicz, Senior Policy Advisor for the HBA, said: “Big announcements on housing have come and gone, as have their promises. However, this budget tackles some of the nuanced conversations that the industry has been having with the Government over the last couple of years.
“The register of planning permissions, increased allocation of small sites, consultations dealing with the reality of delivering homes, and lifting the housing borrowing cap are the headlines we are focussing on. Just like the Housing White Paper, we see this as another example of the Government taking on board the opinion of those who actually build the homes we so desperately need.”