Quality, safety and the long-term legacy are at the heart of the house building agenda - Housing Secretary

Posted On: 
13th June 2019

Speaking at the launch of the Construction Licensing Task Force, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said it was “really good to hear the focus the FMB is attaching to issues of standards and quality and really driving that change within the industry.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive, FMB, Liz Peace, Chair of the Construction Licensing Task Force, James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Baroness Maddock and John Healey, Shadow Housing Minister at FMB's Summer Reception.
Credit: 
FMB

Speaking at the Federation of Master Builders’ Summer Reception, sponsored by B&CE, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire MP said that there was a need to “build homes that people can be safe in, that they feel safe in.”

The Secretary of State spoke shortly after Liz Peace CBE, former CEO of the British Property Federation, announced the creation of a new Construction Licensing Task Force, supported by a range of leading industry bodies, to develop a detailed proposed structure for an industry-backed mandatory licencing scheme for the whole of the UK construction sector.

The decision to establish a Task Force follows a recommendation in an independent research report by Pye Tait, published last year, entitled ‘Licence to build: A pathway to licensing UK construction’, which details the benefits of introducing a licensing scheme for the whole construction industry and puts forward a proposal for how it could work.

Liz Peace, who will chair the new Task Force, explained that it will examine how such a scheme can be effective without it being a barrier to the good firms that already perform well.

She stated that “this isn’t about making life difficult for people who are doing the job well, it’s about actually trying to make their lives easier.”

Peace said it was “scandalous and sad” that research from the FMB reveals that a third of consumers put off commissioning building work because they are too worried about the quality. The report estimated that these concerns are costing the economy £10 billion a year.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said a “lack of competence and professionalism in one part of our industry can never be entirely quarantined from other parts of our industry. We must drive a culture change across the entire sector.”

Responding to the freshly announced launch of the Construction Licensing Task Force, the Secretary of State said it was “really good to hear the focus the FMB is attaching to issues of standards and quality and really driving that change within the industry.”

Impact of the Hackitt Review

This week marked the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, an event the Minister said “underlined that sense of responsibility for all of us.”

 He declared the system needed “fundamental reform” and that the Hackitt Review had been “hugely influential”.

The Minister discussed new initiatives such as the New Homes Ombudsmen to protect homebuyers and promote quality of build.

As the Government aims to fulfil its pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020s, James Brokenshire MP cautioned that “quality, safety and that long-term legacy” must be at the heart of this goal.

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP spoke of Labour’s proposal to a launch a new programme of building a million affordable homes over ten years, and an extension to Help To Buy.

SME involvement

The parliamentarians speaking at the event emphasised the role that SMEs can play in the construction industry going forward.

The Housing Minister said SMEs were benefiting from changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Building Guarantee Scheme run by the British Business Bank.

The MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, said that he wanted to see more SMEs “contributing to meeting the housing need.”

Speaking directly to PoliticsHome, the Secretary of State stated that he “welcomed the work the FMB is doing in driving quality and driving that issue of standards” and wanted to “continue to work with them in the weeks ahead as that agenda becomes clearer.”