Welsh Builders call for cuts in red tape to boost construction

A LEADING construction body has urged the Assembly to cut red tape for small building firms and introduce measures to increase housebuilding.

In its manifesto, launched ahead of next month’s Assembly elections, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) identifies three key challenges facing the industry – building a greener Wales, developing skills and training and creating a new business environment.

The industry employs almost 100,000 in Wales and the FMB claims that for every £1 spent on construction here, the economy benefits to the tune of £1.70.

The FMB has embraced the green agenda, and makes a number of policy recommendations for building a greener Wales

hese include introducing low-rate loans, and other incentives for improving the energy efficiency of Welsh homes, and the introduction of more incentives to recycle materials.

But the FMB is concerned at the introduction of new greener building standards.

It warns that new regulations must be “technically and financially deliverable within the overall context of regulatory burden”.

The FMB manifesto also calls on the next Assembly to continue funding for apprenticeship programmes, and to support more management and leadership training for Welsh construction SMEs.

As for “creating a new business environment”, the FMB calls for targeted support for the construction sector in Wales.

It calls for a limit to the bundling together of procurement contracts to ensure that small firms do not lose out.

The group calls on the next Assembly to make a commitment to make up the current shortfall of homes in Wales – which it estimates at 40,000 dwellings.

It also calls for greater permitted development rights for householders to extend their properties without having to obtain planning permission.

Furthermore, it suggests the Assembly should increase pressure on the UK Government to cut the rate of VAT on building repairs and maintenance to 5% in order to stimulate the construction industry and reduce the number of “cowboy builders”.

Speaking at the launch of the manifesto, Richard Jenkins, director of FMB Wales, stressed the importance of the construction industry to the Welsh economy.

“We need to get Wales building again because the construction industry has entered its fourth year of decline,” he said.

“Unfortunately the importance of the building industry to the Welsh economy is sometimes overlooked, which is a mistake because it continues to employ more than 100,000 people, representing 8% of the total Welsh workforce and accounts for some £4bn per annum, which is approximately 7% of the Welsh economy.”

He said that decisions taken by the incoming government in Cardiff Bay would have a major impact on the fortunes of the industry here.

“FMB Wales is keen to ensure that policy measures are debated now ahead of the May elections so that politicians can explain to voters how they will help the construction sector recover,” he said.

“Decisions taken over the next four years will have a profound and lasting impact on the economy, so it is vital that politicians from across the political spectrum recognise and support the important contribution that small building firms make to our competitiveness.”

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