Queen’s speech hints at construction policy direction
Key industry figures have responded to the Queen’s Speech delivered on 14th October in the House of Lords, which set out the government’s priorities for the year ahead.
The speech, written by government ministers, largely addressed Brexit but offered some insights into the government’s priorities in the construction sector. The speech stated that Ministers: “Will bring forward laws to implement new building safety standards.” There was also mention of a National Infrastructure strategy which will be developed to improve the country’s digital, transport and energy infrastructure.
Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) CEO David Frise welcomed the new building safety standards: “If done right and in close consultation with the industry, the proposed new building regulation regime could cement a better culture of compliance within the industry, and crucially save lives.”
However, he was unsure if the changes would come into effect: “The government has lost its Parliamentary majority and is clearly focused on a general election. We would certainly like these initiatives to pass but the real question is, will it ever happen?”
Frise was unhappy that nothing about on-time supply chain payments: “Both sides of politics should take note that for SMEs who have suffered too long from poor payment practises, this would be a vote winner.”
Another issue BESA feels need tackling is the abuse of retentions money which can be responsible for upstream insolvencies such as with Carillion last year.
The National Federation of Builders chief executive, Richard Beresford, welcomed some aspects of the Queen’s Speech but was not entirely pleased: “A national infrastructure strategy is much needed, as are enshrined environmental principles. However, apart from building safety standards, the Queen’s Speech did not have a strong focus on housebuilding and construction. Planning reform is necessary for industry and the economy, and we are therefore alarmed that the Government chose to omit planning from its ambitions.”
In a statement, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), also welcomed aspects of the Queen’s Speech: “As a member of the Hackitt review into building safety, we welcome the government’s commitment today to implement the recommendations. As a regulator and standards organisation, we appreciate any changes that will seek to improve conditions within the industry.
“Within the speech detail the Government states they will in some areas go further than the Hackitt review; we would urge them to go further in ensuring that they reduce the height needed for sprinklers to 11 meters as suggested by a cross industry group including RICS.”
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