Mark Farmer leads Industry Training Board Review 2023 – call for evidence
The Department for Education has launched a review of CITB and ECITB. This review is part of a wider programme across government to ensure that Arm’s Length Bodies remain effective. This call for evidence requests stakeholder views on the current and future operation of the CITB and ECITB to inform the review. The review will be led by an independent lead reviewer, Mark Farmer, CEO of Cast Consultancy and co-chair of Constructing Excellence. He will be supported by a team of civil servants from the DfE. The review will also access expertise from the respective industries that the ITBs support as well as from across Whitehall.
Major defeat for Conservative Party in by-elections
The Conservative Party suffered two heavy defeats this week after the Liberal Democrats and Labour overturned majorities in the constituencies of Somerton and Frome and Selby and Ainsty respectively. While the Tories narrowly held on to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former Uxbridge seat, this represents a bruising night for the party, who are coming second to Labour in the national polls. In Somerton and Frome the Lib Dems overturned a majority of more than 19,000, with a 29% swing, while Labour made history in Selby and Ainsty, overturning a 20,137 majority, the biggest overturned Conservative majority, since 1945.
Great British Nuclear launched
On Tuesday (18 July), the Government launched Great British Nuclear after last week’s delay. The Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps outlined how Great British Nuclear (GBN) would drive the expansion of new nuclear power plants in the UK at an “unprecedented” scale and pace. The Government claims GBN will boost the UK’s energy security, reduce dependence on volatile fossil fuel imports, create more affordable power and grow the economy, with the nuclear industry estimated to generate around £6bn for the UK economy. As of Tuesday, companies can register their interest with GBN to participate in a competition to secure funding support to develop their products. This could result in billions of pounds of public and private sector investment in small modular reactor (SMR) projects in the UK.
The Government also said it remained committed to the mega projects of Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C and will work with GBN to consider the potential role of further large gigawatt-scale nuclear power plants in the UK energy mix.
Building Safety Regulator announces first step towards regulating the building control profession
On Monday (17 July), the Building Safety Regulator announced two independent provider schemes for building control professionals to take the first step in becoming registered building inspectors. The Regulator said registration is a key part of making building control a regulated profession. The Building Safety Competence Foundation and the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) have been named as the first organisations to become independent competence assessors for all building control surveyors in England. The competence assessment is part of the pathway for building control professionals to become registered building inspectors. More than 4,500 practicing building control professionals will need to be assessed and certified by April 2024 to ensure that they can continue to work in Building Control in England, as required by the Building Safety Act 2022.
Gove pledges to build 30,000 new social rented homes per year
In an interview with Daniel Hewitt, investigations correspondent at ITV News, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said that within the Government’s £11.5bn Affordable Homes Programme, he has “specifically insisted that we renegotiated and that we have more money being spent explicitly for homes for social rent”. It marks the first time Gove has given a figure for the number of social homes he wants to build. The number of new social rent homes being built has fallen from 39,562 a year in 2010 to 7,644 in 2021-22 – the same year that 24,932 were sold under the Right to Buy and 2,757 were demolished. When launching its inquiry into the financial sustainability of the social housing sector, Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, said there is “compelling evidence that England needs at least 90,000 net additional social rented homes a year and it is time for the Government to invest”.
DEFRA publishes Third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3)
On Monday, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published the Third National Adaptation Programme (NAP3) – a report setting out the actions that Government and others will need to take to adapt to the impacts of climate change from 2023 to 2028. NAP3 forms part of the 5-yearly cycle of requirements laid down in the Climate Change Act 2008. Ministers claim that the schemes laid out in the 140-page report will help boost the UK’s resilience to extreme weather and outline how to protect people, homes and businesses from events such as heatwaves, droughts and floods. However, the report has been criticised by many, including the Green Party MP Caroline Lucas who said that the plans “really lack in ambition”. The report follows a report from the Climate Change Committee which warned that Ministers had not made enough progress in adapting to rising global temperatures. NAP3 highlighted a pilot for a dedicated climate data tool to help councils plan and adapt to local challenges. DEFRA said it would also “prioritise nature-based solutions” to issues such as flooding and overheating in education settings by 2025, including rain garden drainage systems and natural shading for outdoor spaces.
However, Inside Housing reports the UKGBC’s analysis that that a national effort to adapt homes against overheating is “largely missing” from NAP3. Louise Hutchins, head of policy and public affairs at UKGBC, said that a nationwide strategy to install shutters, reflective paint and insulation was lacking from the plans. Hutchins said: “Extreme heat, flooding and drought hitting Europe right now leaves little to the imagination about what climate catastrophe will look like and makes clear that the UK’s homes and buildings just aren’t designed for this new normal”. While Hutchins welcomed NAP3 as an “important step forward”, she added that it needs to be “an urgent and ambitious plan to adapt to increasingly severe, frequent and extreme weather”.
IN THE NEWS
Report: How the UK can win the green growth prizes – Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
The CBI has warned that the UK’s progress to net zero is stalling. Urging all political parties to “press the accelerator” on net zero or risk falling behind the US, EU and China, the CBI referenced figures from the Energy Savings Trust which reveal that retrofitting poorly performing homes to EPC-C standard would lower energy bills by £8.1bn annually, reduce gas imports by 15% (bolstering energy security) and support 190,000 jobs across all regions of the UK to 2030. The result is a new report from the CBI – How the UK can win the green growth prizes – which sets out what it believes is an affordable responses to the US’ Inflation Reduction Act. The recommended measures in the report include:
- delivering a clear and stable policy environment to build business confidence, with all political parties putting green growth at the heart of their manifestos ahead of the forthcoming General Election
- devising a comprehensive and competitive set of incentives to enable investment in the green economy
- driving efficiency and improved coordination of delivery mechanisms, between government departments, regions and nations, and on skills and planning too.
HMRC to use Renters Reform Bill to hammer landlords – Landlord Today
Landlord Today reports that accountants are warning that the upcoming Renters’ Reform Bill will be used by HMRC to extract maximum tax from landlords. One particular measure in the Bill, the creation of a digital private rental property portal, could “significantly reshape the landscape of tax on rental income, profoundly impacting resident and non-resident landlords and investors.” The portal is expected to launch in Autumn 2025, assuming that Royal Assent of the Bill is granted in early 2024. Under the impending legislation, it will become mandatory for landlords to register themselves and their properties on the portal; failure to comply with regulations may result in significant financial penalties. The Renters (Reform) Bill also outlines the continuation of selective licensing, with potential new areas for licensing to be identified via the portal. Accountants are warning that failure to abide by licensing requirements can also add to the risk for landlords, especially if they have yet to declare their income from property.
Complaints and enquiries to ombudsman surge by 38% in last quarter – Inside Housing
Inside Housing reports that the number of complaints and enquiries to the Housing Ombudsman about social landlords increased by 38% in the last quarter. The Ombudsman’s latest quarterly data report revealed that it received 11,205 complaints and enquiries between January and March 2023, up from 8,123 in October to December 2022. The statistics for the latest quarter also show that property condition continues to be the most complained about category, accounting for 68% of all complaints. Alongside the data, the watchdog has published an insight report focusing on emerging themes and lessons from recurring cases.
Edie launches new report on reaching net-zero in the NHS – Edie
On Thursday (20 July), Edie published its Mission Positive NHS Spotlight Report which revealed that around of NHS Trusts are not on track to meet their decarbonisation targets. The NHS’s overall climate commitment is to cut emissions across all scopes by 80% by 2032, or sooner if possible. As part of the report, Edie explores the drivers, challenges and opportunities when it comes to accelerating decarbonisation across the NHS, along with the steps that can be taken to embrace a ‘net-positive’ philosophy.
Grant Shapps and John Kerry convene Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum
On Monday (10 July), the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps and the US Special Presidential Envoy on Climate John Kerry convened the Climate Finance Mobilisation Forum in Windsor. They were joined by leading figures in finance and philanthropy in a bid to encourage efforts that increase support for emerging and developing economies to accelerate a net zero transition. Shapps said: “Finance is the lifeblood of growing economies. Billions has been spent so far to accelerate the green transition already underway, and the UK is delivering its £11.6 billion of International Climate Finance to support countries around the world – but if we want to deliver real change, we must go further and do it together. The scale of this transition requires trillions in private investment in addition to the public funds we are spending.”
DLUHC forced to hand back £1.9bn to the Treasury
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has been asked to hand back £1.9bn to the Treasury originally earmarked to tackle England’s housing crisis after the Department struggled to find projects to spend it on. DLUHC has surrendered hundreds of millions of pounds budgeted for 2022-23, including £255 million meant to fund new affordable housing and £245 million meant to improve building safety. Officials said the Department was unable to spend the money, which accounts for about a third of its entire housing budget, thanks to rising interest rates and uncertainty in the housing market after the Covid-19 pandemic. However, experts warn that the lack of investment following this development is likely to exacerbate the housing crisis in England, where housebuilding is forecast to drop to its lowest level since the Second World War.
Next stage of Renters’ Reform Bill likely delayed until autumn
The next stage of the Renters’ Reform Bill, due to have its Second Reading, is now unlikely to take place until the autumn. The House of Commons will rise for summer recess on July 20th and the Bill does not appear on the Parliamentary timetable published by the government for next week.
UK delays ‘Great British Nuclear’ launch
On Wednesday (12 July), the Government announced delays to the official launch of Great British Nuclear – an Arms-Length Body intended to support the UK’s nuclear industry. Grant Shapps had been due to give a heavily trailed speech at London’s Science Museum yesterday, setting out his plans for Great British Nuclear and its role helping the UK hit its net zero goals. However, a leaked email to attendees sent by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said the event was being rescheduled “due to unforeseen circumstances”. Shapps was expected to use his speech to outline the next phase of a planned competition for manufacturing firms — including Rolls Royce and GE Hitachi — vying to develop small modular reactors (SMRs).
IN THE NEWS
NHF welcomes amendments to address concerns around Infrastructure Levy – Inside Housing
Inside Housing reports that the National Housing Federation (NHF) has welcomed amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that aim to address concerns about the proposed Infrastructure Levy that will replace Section 106. According to the amended wording, local authorities now “must seek to ensure” that the level of affordable housing funding provided by developers is maintained or exceeded, unless planning authorities determine that it would make development economically unviable. Another amendment makes it clear that planning authorities can require developers to pay a proportion of their levy liabilities in-kind as onsite affordable housing. Two further amendments aim to strengthen the “test and learn” process through which the levy will gradually be introduced over 10 years. Local authorities will be able to disapply the levy if it is not delivering on its policy aims. They may then use Section 106 to secure affordable housing and infrastructure.
Up to 10,000 fewer affordable homes would have been built had Infrastructure Levy been in place, says City Hall – Inside Housing
Inside Housing reports on new City Hall research which reveals that London could have lost out on between 4,500 and 10,000 affordable homes had the Government’s proposed Infrastructure Levy been in place instead of the current system. The research, which covers a five-year period, found that the Levy could also have made between 10,000 and 30,000 homes of all tenures unviable. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has joined a number of organisations from across the country that are calling on the Government to drop the new Levy in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. Last month, 30 housing associations, housebuilders, charities and councils urged the Government to abandon its plan for the new levy, warning it could cause a reduction in the number of new affordable homes and less money assigned to infrastructure. However, changes to the Levy – including placing firmer emphasis on the need for local authorities to maintain a similar or greater level of affordable housing funding under the new system – were welcomed by the National Housing Federation (NHF) last week (see above).
Proposed new UK oil and gas fields would provide at most three weeks of energy a year – The Guardian
The Guardian reports on analysis showing that proposed new oil and gas fields in the North Sea would produce only enough gas to satisfy the UK’s needs for a few weeks a year, with minimal impact on energy security. In addition, the analysis suggests it is more likely that much of the gas would be exported overseas to the highest bidder, as is currently the case with about 60% of the UK’s gas production. The government has said the new fields are needed for energy security, at a time of rising gas prices, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The decision to move ahead with new licences comes despite advice from the International Energy Agency, commissioned by the UK Government, that no new exploration and development of oil and gas fields around the world should now take place if the world is to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Labour accuses Sunak of ‘standing on the sidelines’ as housing crisis unfolds – Evening Standard
Evening Standard reports that Labour has stepped up warnings of a “Tory mortgage bombshell” hitting households ahead of a meeting with major brokers. The meeting, convened by the Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves and the Shadow Housing Secretary Lisa Nandy, comes as average two-year fixed mortgages hit a 15-year high. Labour also used the meeting as an opportunity to again attack the Government over its failure to set mandatory targets on the supply of new homes. Nandy said Labour would make a package of support for struggling mortgage-holders mandatory rather than voluntary, give greater rights to renters and “take the tough choices to get Britain building.”
As the Chair of the Constructing Excellence South West Board, I take great pride and admiration in expressing my gratitude for the outstanding revitalisation of the CESW Awards 2023 ceremony. Kingsley Clarke and his team at SCF Frameworks ( Eleanor, Gabby and Claire and Matt ) deserve special recognition for their exceptional work throughout the entire process, from handling the initial entries to meticulously organising the event. We carefully considered feedback from previous requests and other major construction events across the UK to ensure we established a platform that exudes prestige. Well done everyone.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Subcommittee of board members for their invaluable input, ensuring we made the right choices regarding the venue and food. The awe-inspiring setting of Concorde, combined with first-class exquisite dining, provided an iconic piece of history to enhance the evening.
To our new and returning sponsors, we acknowledge the pivotal role your financial commitment and involvement play in making these events possible. We ensured maximum visibility for our sponsors before, during, and after the ceremony, and we hope you found true value in being part of this remarkable experience. We look forward to welcoming you back for future events.
The exceptional quality of this year’s entrants made the judging process extremely challenging. The level of excellence displayed in the written submissions and interviews made it difficult to distinguish not only the shortlist but also the eventual winners.
To Meg of BILLYCHIP CIC, having listened intensely to your passionate speech, I no longer feel the need to apologise for the slight malfunction in the sound of your video, because of this, the audience got to hear such a powerful heartfelt message as they respectfully sat in silence due to such an exceptional personal delivery. I look forward to further supporting such a great cause in the future.
This year has undoubtedly set a new standard for CESW, aligning perfectly with the excellence we always strive to deliver. The feedback we received from industry experts who attended the event was overwhelmingly positive, with kind words of gratitude for the excellence delivered to them and their invitees.
Please keep a look out for the Feedback QR code; your honest comments and suggestions are crucial for improving this annual event further.
The CESW Governance Board deeply appreciates the commitment and contributions of everyone involved and sincerely hopes that you will continue to be associated with CESW and participate in our future events. Keep an eye on your email communications and our upcoming new and improved CESW Website for updates on our upcoming events.
This is my first year of involvement in the CESW Bath committee, and it’s been a pleasure to reflect on the social events we’ve held, the highlight of which being host to the Leadership Dinner, which brought together influential figures from our industry. I look forward with anticipation to events in the upcoming year, where we aim to strike the balance between networking opportunities and informative events.
One of the most prevalent topics from the leadership dinner was the future of our industry. There is real concern that addressing the chronic skills shortage is now a critical challenge that must be addressed in order for our industry to flourish for future generations This remains a complex task. Essential to this, is recruiting for both current and future roles, which requires a collaborative approach. We need to provide opportunities that inspire people of all ages to explore or return to a career in construction.
I have spent my working life in this industry, and firmly believe that the Built Environment and career paths it offers, have a profound impact on people’s lives in numerous ways:
- Leaving a legacy of beautiful places
- Provides spaces for people to live, work, and play.
- Poses challenges that foster growth and problem-solving abilities.
- Promotes the development of skills and teamwork.
- Creates opportunities for lasting friendships.
How can we collectively do this?
It is essential that we change the perception of our industry and promote construction as a career of choice that is diverse, professional, interesting, exciting, rewarding, and secure. We must demonstrate that construction is an excellent option for young people. Contrary to the popular belief of the young, our industry is not solely about hard hats and outdoor work in unfavourable conditions.
There is a stigma that construction is not a good career option, and only for those who are not academic. We must double our efforts to educate all students from a young age that a career in construction is high up the list of choices. There is a perception that higher education offers a route to a better paid career, which isn’t always the case compared to what the bult environment can offer.
The demand for skilled professionals is high, particularly with an aging workforce where we risk losing valuable skills if we do not take seriously the replacement of key trades. Therefore, both quantity and quality of skilled people are crucial. Equally important is the retention of people and the mentoring of staff that have already chosen construction, and then sharing the knowledge and experience that already exists.
Construction offers a wide range of opportunities from dumper drivers to designers or bricklayer to building services engineer, and we must ensure that young people understand this diversity and opportunity. Construction is a great industry which allows individuals to progress from apprenticeships to senior positions provided they have the drive and ambition to embark on that journey. The industry requires individuals with diverse expertise and aptitude to thrive and grow. Year-long industry placements, work experience, and graduate apprenticeship schemes are indispensable for cultivating new talent. Additionally, fostering relationships with local schools and colleges is crucial to raise awareness about the rewarding career opportunities in construction.
Recently, I had the opportunity to engage with Reading College, and I was impressed to see their course focus, not only knowledge and technical skills, but also on behavioural aspects. I have also met with Bath College who take a similar approach but requires employers and other key players in our industry to aid the process for the challenge to fulfil all the requirements for our industry to thrive. Soft skills, particularly good communication, are essential, yet not all young people appreciate or feel comfortable embracing them. Nurturing these skills is crucial for the future workforce in the construction industry.
So, this is a plea for us all to shout from the rooftops why our industry should be top choice as a profession. We must increase the noise, as if we don’t, we will struggle to continue to build beautiful buildings to the best quality, within the ever-demanding time constraints we face. And let’s ‘not forget we are traditionally a male dominated industry. If we encourage more women into construction across all roles, we will dramatically reduce the skills shortage.
Finally, I must comment on the recent CESW awards held at the Aerospace Museum. What an amazing night, extremely well organised. There was the right balance of awards and speakers in a warm, friendly environment. Congratulations to all the award winners. Equally all the nominees should be proud of the fact they have been recognised by the industry. The speakers did an amazing job, especially Meg from BillyChip who delivered an inspiring talk, even when good old technology failed. The sponsors and partners who made this happen should be very proud.
I’m sure you all had an enjoyable night, and we all look forward to next year.
Constructing Excellence is very much about influencing, persuading, and inspiring. This month Martyn Jones argues that we will need to hone and deploy these skills like never before if we are to help construction embrace the technologies and ways of working of the new paradigm and play our vital part in saving and repairing the planet.
In responding to the last paradigm shift of the 1990s we invoked the thinking of gurus Peters and Waterman (In Search of Excellence), Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Senge (The 5th Discipline), Havel and Prahalad (Competing for the Future), Freeman and Soete (The Economics of Industrial Innovation) and Womack and Jones (Lean Thinking), and many others too.
Closer to home, we had Latham (Constructing the Team), Egan (Rethinking Construction), Bennett (7 Pillars of Partnering), Wolstenholme (Never Waste a Good Crisis) and more recently Farmer (Modernise or Die), all of whom invited us to work together collaboratively to make the features of the ICT paradigm a reality.
We are now embarking on another even more significant paradigm shift, where we need to influence, persuade, and inspire more construction clients and their advisers to commission environmentally sustainable buildings and infrastructure – and as a matter of great urgency.
We need to persuade them to ask for, indeed require, that those in their construction supply systems deploy the technologies and working practices of the new paradigm for the benefit of their projects, and not just during the design and construction phases but throughout the lifecycle.
To refurbish and repurpose wherever possible rather than looking first to demolish and replace their existing built assets. To switch to the use of more environmentally friendly materials and components, energy sources, and methods of construction.
And it is not just clients and their advisers we need to influence, persuade, and inspire, but first tier contractors and supply chains too. They need to recognise that the impending paradigm shift will require new ideas and transformational leadership if we are to turn away from competing on lowest price and environmentally harmful solutions.
To offer new greener value propositions around the planning strategy proposed by The Climate Change Advisory Group, including making rapid cuts to emissions, recovering carbon from the atmosphere, and adapting to the consequences of climate change that are now inevitable.
How do we best go about influencing, persuading, and inspiring change? What tactics have we deployed in the past? Will they work in the new paradigm?
There are of course, the pressure and assertiveness tactics, employing sanctions and compulsory measures on the targets of the change upstream and downstream in the process. And these have their place in achieving compliance as, for example, in the progress we have made in protecting health and improving worker safety.
Although the use of these pressure tactics can be effective in eliciting compliance – and at the speed now necessary to combat climate change – commitment is seldom secured as they can evoke a hostile reaction and resistance.
The other, softer, slower but more enduring influence tactics were seen as being more in tune with the ICT paradigm and the principles and ethos of Constructing Excellence, and included:
Rational persuasion of the need to change (the use of logical arguments, information, and factual evidence)
Inspirational appeals to change (arousing enthusiasm by appealing to ideals, values, or aspirations and not just for us but for society as a whole and future generations)
Coalition (seeking the engagement, cooperation, and collaboration of others in shaping the change)
Faith (fostering the belief by others that Constructing Excellence was an honest broker, trustworthy, and sincere in our intentions, and that they would respond by doing what is expected of them)
Consultation (involving the targets of the change in the process of making, planning, implementing, and sustaining the change)
Personal appeals to change (appealing to feelings of friendship or loyalty when we asked for change)
Exchange (offering the exchange of material, services, or favours for commitment to the change)
Ingratiation (using flattery, praise, or helpful behaviour prior to asking for change)
If construction is to meet the current challenges, Constructing Excellence, and others, will need to deploy these tactics and possibly others to help our leaders across the built environment guide, restructure, mobilise, facilitate, envision, foster harmonious relationships, encourage learning, and strive to improve performance within their own organisations and with other organisations. They can only do this by exercising effective influence and persuasion.