Making a Statement

Last week’s Autumn statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have been met by many in the construction industry with a sense that things are heading in the right direction, especially for the housebuilders.

Having analysed the initial response from the industry, I’d compare the standout announcement to assign enough government money to build 400,000 new homes in England to somebody walking into a busy pub of thirsty housebuilders and buying a round for everyone at the bar.

For housebuilders, this gives them a real opportunity to capitalise on Government funding and the associated support and safeguard the future of their businesses as well as the future of young homebuyers in the UK. This movement marks the largest drive to build new homes in the UK since the 1970s and should also encourage more foreign investment into the UK property industry.

In the spending review statement, the Chancellor also mentioned that he would be reforming the Renewable Heat Incentive. The RHI is a scheme designed to help homeowners and those living in fuel poverty to install renewable heating technology, reduce their annual heating bills and minimise their carbon footprint. Under the coalition, the scheme was a vital part of the green agenda but under the Tory leadership, the intent for the RHI has been unclear from the start.

Although the mention of the RHI was a little vague, on further research, it looks like more funding will be available for the RHI in 2016, presumably also meaning an extension to the initiative, which is another positive step for the renewable heating industry.

However, the details of this ‘reform’ have yet to be issued and many in the industry are still pessimistic that this means cuts to tariffs or lower payback rates for poorer homes and with the Government’s recent abolition of the code of sustainable homes and Green Deal, you can understand the concerns.

But, there are more immediate issues that need addressing - namely the current skills shortage. I anticipate that in 2016, there will be an increase in internal CSR activity and external recruitment PR from housebuilders and contractors aimed at reducing personnel churn and encouraging more school leavers and graduates to take up roles in construction.

In the first instance, it is up to comms agencies, such as CIB, and in-house marketing teams to come up with ways to improve the reputation of the industry as a whole and to create innovative ways of portraying the construction sector as the truly great industry to work in that it is.

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