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Policy update from CE National – March 1st 2024

CMA finds fundamental concerns in housebuilding market

The CMA has concluded its housebuilding market study in England, Scotland, and Wales. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published its final report on the housebuilding market in Great Britain – finding that the complex and unpredictable planning system, together with the limitations of speculative private development, is responsible for the persistent under delivery of new homes.  The study also found substantial concerns about estate management charges – with homeowners often facing high and unclear charges for the management of facilities such as roads, drainage, and green spaces. Concerns have been found, too, with the quality of some new housing after the number of owners reporting snagging issues increased over the last 10 years.  See CMA finds fundamental concerns in housebuilding market – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Local Transport Fund allocations 2025 to 2032

From 2025, the Local Transport Fund (LTF) will fund a wide range of projects to improve the local transport connections that people rely on every day, particularly across towns, villages, and rural areas.  Over the next 7 years from April 2025, local transport authorities (LTAs) in the North will receive £2.5 billion and those in the Midlands will receive £2.2 billion.  Find out more at: Local Transport Fund allocations 2025 to 2032 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Design and building work: meeting building requirements

New easy to digest guidance from the HSE details the duties and competence requirements for building regulations that clients, designers and contractors must meet.  See: Design and building work: meeting building requirements – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

Construction Industry Unveils Plan to Increase Biodiversity and Support the Natural Environment

On Wednesday the Construction Leadership Council’s Green Construction Board launched its Biodiversity Roadmap for the sector, detailing how the construction industry will work together to reduce harm to our natural environment. Construction Industry Unveils Plan to Increase Biodiversity and Support the Natural Environment – Construction Leadership Council

 

Take part in a pilot project to create a quality metric and help remove the need for cash retentions in contracts

The CLC is working with Cranfield University in partnership with the “Get It Right Initiative” (GIRI) to run a pilot project which aims to establish a quality metric as a viable alternative to the withholding of cash retentions as a form of insurance against defects. Clients and contractors are invited to take part in the pilot project and help test the proof of concept for this innovative work. It takes previously successful data gathering schemes used to address health and safety concerns and late payment as its inspiration.  See more at: Take part in a pilot project to create a quality metric and help remove the need for cash retentions in contracts – Construction Leadership Council

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announces a 39% increase in heat pump applications

On Thursday (29 February), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero released figures that showed January 2024 had 39% more heat pump applications compared to January 2023. With a total of 2,000, January 2024 was the third highest month so far for heat pump applications. This follows the trend of higher uptake of the technology since the increase of the government grant to £7,500, with the scheme having so far funded 33,424 applications and issued over £133 million in vouchers to customers.

Department for Energy Security and Net Zero releases new measures to help save on domestic bills

On Friday (23 February), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced schemes to help customers repair or replace smart meter in-home displays after their one-year warranty and to provide £10 million in funding for companies to test new technologies and tariffs with their customers to make the most of low-carbon power. This comes as Ofgem announced the energy price cap will fall by £238 from April, meaning bills are now the lowest they’ve been since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Local Government and Building Safety Minister responds to Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee’s fire safety product testing review

On Wednesday (28 February), the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee published correspondence from Lee Rowley, Minister for Local Government and Building Safety, following a series of Committee questions relating to the Independent Review of the Construction Projects Testing Regime. The letter informs the Committee that the Government will not give one single response to the Review due to it being a “multi-stage process”, as well as providing clarifications on some of the current harmonised EU standards, and the steps being taken by the Government to help decoupling homes with shared electrical supplies in social housing.

  

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities release £220 million to provide 800 homes for rough sleepers

On Wednesday (28 February), the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced it is giving nearly £220 million to councils across the country to tackle homelessness. The funding includes £107 million to provide 800 planned homes for rough sleepers, a £109 million increase to the Homelessness Prevenetion Grant and a £6 million boost for off-street spaces for rough sleepers in the winter to provide warmth and safety.

IN THE NEWS

George Galloway wins the Rochdale byelection

George Galloway has won the Rochdale byelection with 39.7% of the vote representing the British Workers’ Party. The byelection, triggered by the death of Sir Tony Lloyd, has been beset by controversy, including Labour removing support for their candidate, Azhar Ali, after he made inflammatory comments about Israel and Palestine. Ali finished fourth with 7.7% of the vote, being beaten by an Independent named David Tully with 21.3% and Paul Ellison for the Conservatives with 12% of the vote. This was a -43.9% swing for Labour.

Renting reforms: Minister discuss watering down no-fault eviction proposals – BBC News

BBC News reports it has seen a series of draft government amendments to the Renters Reform Bill to water down the proposed ban on landlords evicting tenants without reason. This comes from around 50 Conservative MPs, many of whom are landlords, who have expressed opposition to the Bill. Ministers are consulting the rebel MPs on these measures to see if a deal can be struck in return for their support of the Bill.

 

Scheme to reduce energy bills will take 60 years to complete – The Times

The Times reports Ministers are reassessing the viability of the Great British Insulation Scheme, with only 2,900 using the scheme in the first eight months of its operation out of a 300,000 target over three years. Most of the homes which have used the scheme so far have also only installed one energy efficiency measure and some parts of the country have had as few as one hundred homes benefit. Insiders claim the scheme has become immensely bureaucratic, with less than half of those applying being eligible and some measures making it less economic for suppliers to carry out work. Industry figures are reported to fear that the scheme is about to follow the same fate as the £1.5 billion Green Homes Grant which was scrapped six months after its launch.

Comment: Why a circular built environment makes economic and environmental sense – Reuters

Reuters published an opinion article by Anis Nassar and Sebastian Reiter, an economist at the Centre for Nature and Climate of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and partner at McKinsey respectively. Nassar and Reiter argue the best way for the construction industry to reduce its strain on the environment, currently contributing more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions and producing 100 billion tons of waste a year, is to adopt a circular model to support sustainable economic growth. Joint research by the World Economic Forum and McKinsey show a circular economy could abate 75% of embodied emissions, up to 4 gigatons of CO2, and add up to $360 billion in extra profits annually by 2050. The study was done by examining six building materials: cement, steel, aluminium, plastics, glass and gypsum.

 

UK competition watchdog opens probe into 8 housebuilders over information sharing‘Complex and unpredictable planning system’ to blame for building shortage, says Competition and Markets Authority.  The UK’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into eight housebuilders over whether they shared commercially sensitive information after a year-long study into why Britain builds too few homes.  https://www.ft.com/content/6171255c-96b2-4b52-a56f-751ad3c9d7c6

 

UK ministers must ‘move faster’ on net zero energy reforms, warns infrastructure tsarSir John Armitt accuses Whitehall of taking ‘too long’ to decide on measures to support decarbonisation.  Read more at the FT https://www.ft.com/content/de58ea7a-aabe-4199-8754-5e1567609f96

 

Hundreds of homes with RAAC concrete to be evacuated in Aberdeen – Sky News

Sky News reports around 500 homes in Aberdeen’s Balnagask area have been identified as having RAAC panels following an inspection last year. This includes 364 council properties, 299 of which are currently occupied. Aberdeen Local Authority has said is it exploring options for the long-term viability of the site, including remedial works or demolition, and it has asked the housing support officers involved to find alternative arrangements for residents to “understand their individual needs”. A detailed appraisal is expected to be presented to the council within six months.

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