The CIOB Policy Team Newsletter - January 2022
Our Big Stories from 2021
As we start the New Year, there is optimism for the construction sector, rebounding from the impact of early lockdowns in the labour and materials market. There are also significant opportunities following COP26 and the implementation of the Building Safety Bill to attract new workers and raise the levels of professionalism in the sector.
Below, we have put together a summary of CIOB’s key stories from 2021.
We would love to hear from you, so please do get in touch at [email protected].
Construction Quality Guide
In January 2021, we launched our Guide to Construction Quality, focusing on quality management during the site production and assembly stage of construction projects.
The Guide promotes an approach to quality management that begins by identifying those issues that impact on quality on site, assessing their likelihood and impact, and proposing practical measures that can be taken to either mitigate or remove them. It is intended to be a practical guide for use by practitioners working collaboratively throughout the construction supply chain.
Along with CIOB’s Code of Quality Management, this Guide is part of our ongoing commitment to raise standards and promote best practice in quality management and building safety in our industry. With support from Government we want this guide to form a key part of the day-to-day practice of the construction industry.
Fire Safety Act
As the issue of quality in the construction industry continued to play a central role in the Government’s agenda, April 2021 saw the Fire Safety Bill receive Royal Assent and become law. As the Bill progressed through its final stages in the House of Commons it suffered a few setbacks as peers sought to introduce amendments to protect leaseholders from paying for fire safety remediation costs.
The final of these – Lords amendment 4L – was rejected by MPs, with 322 voting against it and 256 voting for. It was stated that the amendment lacked clarity about the nature of remediation costs and would be difficult and time consuming to insert into the Bill.
While we were disappointed to see the Lords amendment not go through, we are pleased that clarity has now been provided by the current Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP.
On 10 January 2022, Mr Gove made an oral statement to the House of Commons announcing plans to protect innocent leaseholders, who are trapped in unsellable homes and face excessive bills to fix dangerous cladding defects. This includes a package of measures and a warning to developers that they must agree a fully funded plan of action for remediation. We will continue to inform members and work with policy makers on these proposals and ensuring that leaseholders are not ultimately responsible for covering the costs of cladding remediation.
Procuring for Value
In the summer of 2021, CIOB joined forces with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Royal Institute of British Architects, the UK Green Building Council and Social Value UK, to develop the Value Toolkit.
The Value Toolkit, which is multi-stakeholder project lead by the Construction Innovation Hub and backed by UK Government funding, aims to help built environment organisations better define, understand and manage the value created throughout the lifecycle of a project.
The Value Toolkit aligns with the HM Treasury’s Green Book and Balanced Scorecard as well as the private sector Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment criteria which can be scaled to support global, national or local priorities.
The Value Toolkit will not only allow for value-based decisions, but it will foster innovation and improve the quality of assets for future generations. Currently the toolkit is focused on the UK’s built environment, but, longer term, could present huge value for international stakeholders if industry truly engages in value-based decision making. We continue to promote the benefit of value-based decision making and will enable the industry to better measure and achieve added value throughout the lifecycle of a project.
You can learn more about the Value Toolkit here.
Building Safety Levy
In July 2021, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) opened a consultation for feedback on the design of a proposed Building Safety Levy. The levy is set to be introduced on developers who seek regulatory permission to build certain high-rise residential buildings – “Gateway 2”.
CIOB, as a professional body, was unable to comment on the design and scope of the levy. However, given the likely impact on developers and housebuilders, a survey was created to collate members views should they not have the time to complete the full consultation. The consultation closed on 15 October 2021 and on the back of this we drafted a formal response which highlights of the main points raised by members which can be read here.
On design of the levy, there was a broad agreement that the proposed levy payment should be the responsibility of the client and the calculation should be based on floor area rather than per residential unit. There was also agreement that the levy rate should vary depending on the location to reflect differing property values. Alongside this, respondents made it clear that hospitals should be exempt from the charge and other options that were popular included affordable housing and refurbishment projects.
Heat and Buildings Strategy
We welcomed the Government’ long-anticipated Heat and Buildings Strategy. The strategy sets out how Government will improve heating and energy efficiency of housing, incentivise people to install low-carbon heating systems in their homes and encourage industry to work in a more adaptable fashion to bring down the overall cost of heat pumps.
Although a welcome publication, we hold concerns that it does not go far enough to meet the UK’s 2050 target of reducing overall emissions by 80 per cent. Alongside this, we understand that the Government has indicated its intention to upgrade existing gas boiler systems to make them more efficient, however the need to replace outdated, inefficient boiler systems is only one piece in a larger puzzle in tackling the overall energy efficiency in homes.
Addressing the sustainability of the built environment and hitting net zero ambitions requires coordinated, long-term action. Isolated activities and private market initiatives alone will not be enough to address the scale of the challenge. If we are to retrofit 29 million existing homes by 2050 then we urgently need a National Retrofit Strategy. Not only will this contribute to our legally binding carbon targets, it will create new jobs, deliver growth across the country and take many people out of fuel poverty.
CIOB has been working with other professional bodies in producing a costed model for a National Retrofit Strategy.
You can read our full response to the publication of the Heat and Building Strategy here.
Building Safety Bill
2021 saw the publication of the Building Safety Bill which is set to be one of the most influential pieces of legislation that the built environment has seen for 25 years. We welcomed the publication of the Bill, which takes forward fundamental reform of the building safety system and addresses issues identified by Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety.
Through our scrutiny of the draft Bill, identified several key areas that the Government and Bill Committee’s should address, these include:
- Intentions and scope - We remain satisfied that the Building Safety Bill follows through on the key recommendations made in the Building a Safer Future report, particularly those calling for a new and more rigorous regulatory framework and a series of robust gateway points to strengthen regulatory oversight. However, the success of the new regime is heavily dependent on how the new Building Safety Regulator is constituted and how it operates.
- Timescales and resourcing - Key questions around timescales and cost must be considered, including the length of time it will take for developers to get approval from the new regulator at the proposed gateways and the impact this will have, as well as the cost of applications to the regulator and who will pay them.
- Competencies and training - A key challenge will be the availability of experts to deliver Building Safety Managers (BSM) training, and the cost of implementing and delivering an accreditation scheme taught by highly qualified professionals. It will be necessary to continue to push the industry to understand that it is more difficult, time consuming and expensive to achieve competency, and that qualifications alone will not be enough to improve building safety.
- Golden thread - The Bill sets out regulations about how information and documents must be stored as part of the golden thread. However, it gives no indication on the type of document that should be stored or retained. Further clarity on what information is required is critical.
- Gateways - The gateway process will require the industry to produce detailed planning applications that contain key information about how a scheme meets fire safety requirements. Whilst this is encouraged, this process will be time consuming and cost intensive in its early stages. It is currently unclear how long it may take for each of the gateway criteria to be met which is generating further uncertainty from many areas of the construction industry.
- Indemnity - While the extensive programme of regulatory change set out in the Bill is welcome, we are concerned about the implications of this change for the availability and affordability of insurance products. Construction work will be unable to go ahead unless contractors are able to obtain affordable cover, and thought must be given to how the insurance industry can adapt to changes set out in the Bill.
Our full submission to the Building Safety Bill published in November can be accessed here.
Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into Sustainability of the Built Environment
Following our written submission to the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) inquiry into sustainability of the built environment we were invited to present follow up evidence at their oral session in October 2021.
Our submission focused primarily on incentivising more repair, maintenance and improvement of the existing housing stock and the levers that would be needed to ensure adequate supply and demand over a long-term. Additionally, we highlighted failures with the Green Homes Grant scheme and highlighted how it would have performed better as part of a wider package of measures through a long-term national retrofit strategy.
You can watch our evidence session in parliament here - (timestamp: 15:34:25) or you can read the evidence transcript here.
CIOB Diversity & Inclusion Charter
In November 2021, we launched a special report and Charter on diversity and inclusion.
The aim of the charter is to promote positive change with its five actions for improving diversity and inclusion. Employers that sign-up will see improvements in the diversity and sense of belonging in their organisations, helping to address the skills shortage increasingly affecting the sector.
In our associated report, we stress that diversity and inclusion in construction is a matter of individual business survival. A growing body of evidence suggests that it is also a matter of business success. The issue of diversity and inclusion is one of vital strategic importance for construction business leaders right now, and it sets out the steps they need to take to get their organisations moving in the right direction.
If you are interested in supporting, or raising awareness of the charter then please contact Daisie Rees-Evans, CIOB Policy Officer on [email protected].
The report and Charter can be accessed here.
Staying in Contact
Thank you for reading this month’s update from the CIOB policy team. We will be back in your inbox next month with more information about what the team is up to, what is going on in Parliament and built environment news to look out for.
All the best,
The CIOB policy team