BCIA President welcomes green promises and staff retention measures in Chancellor’s Summer Statement
Terry Sharp of the BCIA thinks the annoucements are positive
The lockdown period during the Coronavirus outbreak put tremendous strain on a number of industries, including the building sector. For many in our industry the uncertainty over whether people have enough income to support themselves and their families will have made this a very stressful time.
Since its introduction the government's furlough scheme has helped employers pay the wages of some 9 million employees across the UK and more than 2.7 million people have been supported by the self-employment income support scheme. Businesses have been supported by tax cuts and deferrals, as well as cash grants, and over a million loans through four government-backed schemes.
On 8th July Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of measures in a Summer Economic update, which the Chancellor stated was to 'give everyone the opportunity of good and secure work, so no one is left without hope'.
With the flexible Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme CJRS confirmed to be closing at the end of October, the BCIA welcomes the government’s plan to reward and incentivise employers that bring back employees from furlough and into jobs through to January 2021 with a £1,000 bonus. For our industry to continue to thrive, we are very reliant on the knowledge, expertise and perhaps most importantly the health of the professionals who make our buildings work. We have done our best to maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach at the BCIA to help keep our members engaged and focused and I am sure there will be many staff eager to get back to doing what they do best.
Some more good news from the Chancellor’s statement is the announcement of a £2 billion green home grant, to support a green-led recovery. From September homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers to make housing more energy efficient and to create local jobs. The government will cover two thirds of the cost up to £5,000 per household, and up to £10,000 for those on low incomes. There will also be £1 billion of funding available for developing energy efficiency in public sector building.
A Clean Growth Strategy sets out the government’s ambition to halve greenhouse gas emissions from the public sector by 2032. To help achieve this and support economic recovery, the government will invest £1 billion over the next year in a Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme that will offer grants to public sector bodies, including schools and hospitals, to fund both energy efficiency and low carbon heat upgrades. The road to net-zero by 2050 is a long and challenging one but these are the types of initiatives we need to see if we are to achieve it, and the building controls sector will play a crucial role in making our buildings green.
Finally, we at the BCIA are always keen to emphasise the fact that it is the next generation of engineers who will be the key drivers in evolving technologies and so the planned support for younger workers is a positive step that will be a huge boost for many industries, including ours. The new Kickstart Scheme will directly pay employers to create new jobs for any 16 to 24-year-old at risk of long-term unemployment. An initial £2 billion will be available to fund the scheme, with no cap on the number of places available. In addition, the government will pay employers £1,000 to take on new trainees, with the aim of tripling the number of level 2 and level 3 courses, at a cost of £100m. There is also extra funding for careers advice.
The Chancellor also announced that for the next six months, the Government will pay employers to create new apprenticeships.
The BCIA’s Young Engineer Award is becoming more and more competitive with each year that passes and it makes me extremely proud to see the wealth of talent we have entering our sector at an early age. The BCIA takes the responsibility of encouraging young workers into our industry very seriously, as demonstrated by the development of our Trailblazer Standard, so it is pleasing to see the government make these commitments.