BUILDING PRODUCTS | NEWS Construction output rises at fastest pace for five months Sector warns of Brexit More to be done labour ‘cliff edge’ 8 BUILDING PRODUCTS | DECEMBER 2017 Small builder = big satisfaction Consumers are twice as likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of their new home if it was built by a small and medium-sized (SME) house builder, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Key results from the FMB’s research into satisfaction rates among people who have bought a home in the past five years reportedly show that twice as many people (36%) say they are ‘very satisfied’ with the quality of their new build home if purchased from an SME house builder, compared with those whose home was built by one of the top 20 large builders (17%). Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB (pictured below), said: “There is a popular misconception that new build homes are poor quality compared to period properties that were built to last. “Small local house builders, who hang their hat on delivering highquality new build homes, find this view immensely frustrating.” Berry continued: “For a small, local builder, reputation is everything. They will typically reside in the same community that they’re building in and are therefore doubly motivated to deliver a high quality product that the home buyer will love. “If we are to improve the image of the house building sector, all house builders, large and small, need to put quality at the heart of every project. Not only will this make our industry more attractive to new entrants, including children and young people, it will soften planning committees to the prospect of new developments.” November data from IHS Markit/CIPS has pointed to a ‘moderate rebound’ in UK construction output, with business activity rising at the strongest rate since June. New orders and employment numbers also reportedly increased to the greatest extent in five months. Adjusted for seasonal influences, the IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) picked up from 50.8 in October to 53.1 in November, to remain above the 50.0 no-change value for the second month running. The latest reading was the highest for five months and signalled a solid rate of business activity growth across the construction sector. House building projects were again the primary growth engine for construction activity. Survey respondents suggested that resilient demand and a supportive policy backdrop had driven the robust and accelerated upturn in residential work. Commercial construction was the weakest performing area of activity in November, which continued the trend seen for much of 2017 so far. Some firms noted that Brexit-related uncertainty and the subdued economic outlook had held back spending among clients. Duncan Brock, director of Customer Relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, added: “At last the construction sector, has picked its feet up with the biggest overall improvement in five months, underpinned by a moderate rise in new orders, but the strongest since June. “It appears that policy support and a small recovery in the UK economy has boosted sentiment and encouraged clients to come out of their shells and start building again... Overall, the sector showed an incremental improvement, but business optimism was on the rise and up from last month’s five-year low. Perhaps the darkest days are behind the sector with fresh impetus on the horizon for the New Year.” NEWS The UK and Ireland campaign ‘Spotlight on...women in construction’ has been launched by the Considerate Constructors Scheme to boost efforts to attract more women into the industry. The scheme surveyed more than 1,000 people to find out why women still only represent 11% of the construction industry workforce. While 94% of respondents agreed that the industry would benefit from employing more women, 74% said there should not be quotas for hiring women into construction. Considerate Constructors says that although some results appear encouraging, it is clear that there is ‘still a huge amount to be done, particularly in addressing sexism and changing misguided perceptions of what a career in construction offers to women’. The construction sector has come together with one voice to warn the government that the industry is facing a ‘cliff edge’ regarding access to EU workers. In an unprecedented show of unity, seven of the construction industry’s major trade bodies have set out what they believe to be the sector’s responsibilities and requirements in a post-Brexit labour market. The ‘Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto’ commits the sector to doing much more to recruit and train additional UK workers to reduce its future reliance on migrant labour. However, it makes clear that this will not be able to happen overnight and that, for some time, there will likely remain an ongoing need for significant levels of skilled EU workers. The document sets down the industry’s key messages to the government on what it will need from a post-Brexit immigration system in order to be able to deliver the government’s strategic objectives for new housing and infrastructure: • The government should agree a transition period of at least two years as soon as possible, during which time EU workers arriving in the UK should continue to have a path to settled status. • The post-transitional migration system should be based on key occupations that are in short supply, rather than on arbitrary thresholds based on skill levels or income. The Manifesto comes with the support of seven major construction trade bodies comprising the Federation of Master Builders, Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Build UK, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Products Association, Home Builders Federation, and National Federation of Builders.
Building Products December 2017
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