The CIOB Policy Team Newsletter - January 2021
Welcome to the third edition of the CIOB policy team’s monthly newsletter. Our January update includes a window into how the CIOB responds to government consultations and how you can engage in the process, the contents of the new Skills White Paper and an update on permitted development rights following a consultation period with industry. We also take a look at the latest Scottish Budget in our devolved regions update, as well as the latest news on the Government’s building safety agenda.
We would love to hear any feedback or thoughts you have, so please do get in touch at [email protected].
One thing you need to do... Renew your CIOB membership
Don’t forget that Sunday 28 February is the last day to pay for your CIOB annual membership!
Anyone with Chartered Membership (Fellow or Member) or Incorporated or Associate membership experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is also eligible for reduced subscription fees. This may include financial difficulty as a result of being furloughed on a reduced salary, a salary or pay reduction or being made redundant.
For further information and to renew, please contact: [email protected] or +44 (0)1344 630 700.
1. Consultations and member feedback
The CIOB are regularly invited to advise government departments, committees, political groups and other stakeholders on a multitude of issues related to the construction sector and wider built environment. One of the main ways we engage with Government is through policy briefings and responding to the consultations that are relevant to our members.
Consultations are a key component of the policy-making process and the CIOB frequently responds to proposed legislative changes through a combination of drawing on our own existing research and input from CIOB members.
At the CIOB, we really value input from those in the industry as you are often at the heart of the issue. Additionally, your involvement helps us to accurately portray the issue and the views of those that experience it first-hand. Previous consultations we have responded to include:
- Recognition of professional qualifications
- Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill
- Achieving post-pandemic economic growth
- The Shortage Occupation List for skills and jobs
These are just a handful of issues that we have responded on and you can view the full list over at the CIOB website.
We regularly update our website with open consultations that we are seeking to respond to. If you have an opinion or expertise in a particular area, we would welcome your views and experience. Alternatively, if you are interested in how you can get more involved with policy activity and would like to gain further information, you can contact [email protected].
2. Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth
On 22 January, the Government published its further education white paper – Skills for Jobs: Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth. The white paper sets out reforms to post-16 technical education and training to support people to develop the skills needed to get good jobs and improve national productivity.
The white paper brings together a collection of Government education policies and has drawn on several reviews over the past few years to reform the system in a way that brings parity to the further and higher education sectors.
Skills for Jobs identifies five key areas for an FE system that meets the country’s needs:
- Putting employers at the heart of post-16 skills
- Providing the advanced technical and higher technical skills the nation needs
- A Flexible Lifetime Skills Guarantee
- Responsive providers, supported by more effective accountability and funding
- Supporting outstanding teaching
The measures announced aim to put an end to the illusion that a degree is the only route to success and a good job, and that further and technical education is the second-class option. The focus will shift to further and technical education, realigning the system to meet the needs of employers and training for the skills gaps that exist now and, in the future, in key sectors including construction, digital, clean energy and manufacturing.
A new Build Back Better Business Council has also been launched to unlock investment, boost job creation and level up the whole of the UK, fuelling the Covid-19 economic recovery. The Council is comprised of 30 members representing a range of key sectors, including construction (Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty) and infrastructure (Isabel Dedring, Arup).
The white paper says “subject to parliamentary approval” that the Government’s intention is that many of the reforms proposed will be implemented through future primary legislation and they will consult on proposals where appropriate.
Should you wish for any further information, please contact [email protected].
3. Update on Permitted Development Rights (PDR)
The CIOB has responded through the Construction Industry Council (CIC) to the Government’s latest consultation on supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure. The proposals would extend permitted development rights (PDR) further as part of plans to make ‘more immediate changes to the planning system’ in England.
The submission emphasises that the PDR regime should not be an exception to the principle of delivering sufficient infrastructure alongside housing. More people mean more pressure on local services. At a time of increased pressure on schools and the NHS, building housing in isolation to local amenities and services needs to be avoided at all costs. Units delivered under PDR should be subject to the same planning obligations as all new housing is under the planning system.
We will keep you updated following the outcome of the consultation and any changes to policy.
4. Devolved news – Scottish Budget
On 28 January, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes MSP presented the Scottish Budget 2021-22 to Parliament, announcing support for jobs and skills totalling around £1.1 billion.
In an effort to prioritise and support job creation, measures in the Budget include a new Green Workforce Academy to help people secure work in the low carbon economy, a £100 million Green Jobs Fund over the next parliament, £7 million towards making Scotland a world class hub for digital business and an additional £115 million for the Young Person’s Guarantee.
The need for more affordable and greener housing also featured heavily. The Budget includes over £711 million to deliver affordable homes, £55 million for regeneration programmes and £150 million for fuel poverty and energy efficiency measures. This includes Warm Homes Scotland and funding local councils to deliver energy efficiency improvement projects to whole streets, flats and estates.
Delivering the Budget in the Chamber, Ms Forbes highlighted the need to invest for growth. A new infrastructure investment plan (released on 4 February), highlights a pipeline of projects to drive Scotland’s resilience, driving inclusive, net zero and sustain growth.
Infrastructure Investment Plan
The Infrastructure Investment Plan demonstrates the vital role of infrastructure in helping businesses and communities to adapt and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, setting out a clear vision for the future of infrastructure.
The Scottish Government’s five-year plan is forecast to exceed £33 billion across healthcare, education, transport and environmental infrastructure. Commenting on the Plan, Transport and Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson MSP stated that he hopes it will support an estimated 45,000 construction and maintenance jobs over the next parliamentary term.
Importantly, the Government has prioritised maximising the useful life of existing built assets, opting for repair and maintenance of existing assets, as well as repurposing instead of replacement. This highlights the significant opportunities for the repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector over the next few years and is an important driver for reaching net-zero targets and supporting job creation.
Underpinning the vision are three themes: enabling net zero emissions and environmental sustainability; driving inclusive economic growth; and building resilient and sustainable places.
The policy team will be strengthening our engagement with the Scottish Parliament over the coming months. Expect an update on developments soon!
5. Update on Building Safety
Progress continues on the legislative framework for the Government’s proposed reforms to the building safety regime, in the form of the Building Safety Bill, Fire Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Order.
Building Safety Bill
The draft Building Safety Bill was published for consideration in July last year, and the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee concluded its pre-legislative scrutiny of the bill and published a final report in November. The CIOB contributed a submission to the inquiry and we are pleased to see that our work was referenced 10 times in the final document.
The Committee’s report makes 13 recommendations to Government on issues including secondary legislation, timelines of the new regime, leaseholders, accreditation, accountable persons and a competency framework. The Government is expected to publish its response to the report and its recommendations imminently, before introducing the bill to Parliament in mid-Spring. Work is also underway at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to establish the Building Safety Regulator in shadow form.
Construction Products Regulator
In January, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) announced the creation of a new Construction Products Regulator, with the aim of ensuring that home-building materials are made safer. The new regulator will operate within the Office for Product Safety and Standards, with an initial £10 billion funding for establishment. It will have the power to conduct its own product testing, remove products from market and prosecute firms who violate the new rules.
Simultaneously, the Construction Products Association (CPA) has now released its Code of Construction Product Information (CCPI). The CCPI has been developed by the CPA’s Marketing Integrity Group, which was set up following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building a Safer Future report. The Group conducted an industry wide ‘call for evidence’ survey in 2019 to address the findings of this report, and the result is the publication of the 11-point code, which aims to set a level playing field for all construction product manufacturers to ensure that the information they provide passes the five tests identified in the 2019 survey.
The Marketing Integrity Group is currently driving an industry-wide consultation to give manufacturers, specifiers and users of information an opportunity to comment on the new Code, the implementation of its 11 Clauses, and proposed ongoing management and policing.
We will be following the progress of the consultation closely and are encouraging members to make submissions. The deadline for submission is 31 March, and the consultation can be accessed here.
Fire Safety Bill
The Fire Safety Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords on 24 November and will now go on to its ‘ping pong’ phase, where amendments are debated back and forth between the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
MPs are currently in the process of considering amendments tabled in the House of Lords. Several Conservative MPs have proposed changes to these amendments which would remove any obligation on leaseholders to pay costs relation to remediation of historical building safety defects and the Fire Safety Order. These changes received significant support from members of opposition parties, and on Monday 1 February an Opposition Day debate was held in the House of Commons, on the topic of cladding. The Labour Party tabled a motion calling on the Government to immediately provide funding to fix unsafe homes and to ensure that leaseholders would not bear the financial burden of remediation, which ultimately passed by 263 votes to zero. It is important to note, however, that Conservative MPs were instructed to abstain from the vote and that the vote itself is not legally binding.
The BBC reports that the Government is preparing to commit significant additional funding towards the issue – running into the billions – to be paid for by the taxpayer and announced before the Fire Safety Bill returns from the House of Lords to continue its final stages in the Commons.
Coming up in February
The CIOB will be co-hosting a Barbour ABI series of thought leadership pieces looking at the combined effects of digitalisation, decarbonisation, and demographic change that require us to radically reshape the built environment. The first article in the series is set to be released on 22 February.
We will also be supporting an Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report on Skills for a Green Recovery on 23 February, delving into the barriers to progress on construction and infrastructure skills in the UK.
Finally, the Government’s response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) pre-legislative scrutiny of the Building Safety Bill is expected to be released in the near future, as the Fire Safety Bill awaits its ‘ping pong’ stage of final debate before enactment.
If you made it this far...
A consortium of built environment organisations including the CIOB will be hosting a London Mayoral Built Environment Hustings event, ahead of the London mayoral elections on 6 May 2021.
The event entitled ‘what do we need from the next Mayor of London?’ is set to take place online on 11 March. It will be Chaired by Peter Murray, Curator-in-Chief of New London Architecture and feature candidate and industry views on the tools the built environment needs to tackle significant issues such as the pandemic recovery and climate change to ensure a brighter future for London.
Registration is set to go live shortly. If you are interested in attending, please contact Felicity Handley for an invitation at [email protected].
Thank you for reading this month’s update from the CIOB policy team. We would love to hear what you think, so please do send any thoughts or feedback to [email protected].
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
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