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Statement from Steve Midgley, MD of Fairgrove and Director of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce re 2017 Budget

“Having now heard the details of Mr Hammond’s Budget regarding the housing sector, there are elements that we welcome, and other parts where we remain cautiously optimistic about the future.

Scrapping stamp duty for first-time buyers is excellent news, and will provide a much-needed boost to the market. But an extension of the government’s Help to Buy scheme beyond 2020 would also have been useful.

The £44bn in government support to boost construction skills is also obviously hugely positive – providing it’s implemented where it’s needed – as is the review into delays in permitted developments. As one of the smaller house builders in the region, delays have a huge impact on our cash flow, so any improvement to the current system and processes would be beneficial.

As with every Budget announcement, the devil is in the detail. I’m hopeful, rather than confident, that these announcements will lead to a boost for the housing sector and the economy as a whole.”

We have made a pledge to help solve the industry skills gap

We have pledged to work with our subcontractors to recruit and train more people to the highest standards, and help tackle the pressing home building skills gap head on.

We are among the dozens of home builders that have signed up to the Home Building Skills Pledge, a set of five key actions developed by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) through its Home Building Skills Partnership and its members in recognition of the need to collaboratively tackle the nationwide home building skills shortage. It also recognises the importance of future proofing workforce skills – via new entry routes as well as developing existing talent. This will mean that quality homes can be built where and when they are needed.

All of HBF’s larger members have now signed up alongside an increasing number of medium and small members – meaning companies responsible for well over half the homes built in England are already committed.

The Skills Pledge covers five key areas: Collaborate and share; Train to a standard; Engage and support; Champion diversity and inclusion; and Promote careers. By signing up to Pledge, companies will also be supporting the HBF’s HomeBuilding Skills Partnership and working to its shared goals.

Steve Midgley, MD of Fairgrove said, “We are delighted to be supporting the Home Building Skills Pledge and being part of the growing momentum for really tackling this crucial agenda. We’ve recently recruited six new Apprentices spread across bricklaying and joinery, with one taking up a management trainee role. As a small company this is a huge investment, but a trained and qualified workforce, equipped with the skills and experience they need for their roles, is vital for both our business and the industry as a whole.”

The Home Building Skills Partnership is a pan industry body funded by CITB and set up to tackle the industry’s skills shortage. The Partnership, set up 18 months ago is already starting to deliver on its objective of attracting and training the people the industry needs to deliver more, high quality homes in the future. In the last three months alone site managers and trainee site managers have been put through over 200 training courses with another 550 planned for the next three months, whilst around 50 young people are currently being fast tracked into trade roles including bricklaying, dry lining and joinery.

Speaking at the Home Building Skills Pledge’s official launch at the HBF’s annual Housing Market Intelligence event in London on October 5th, John Tutte, Group Chief Executive of Redrow Plc, and Chair of the Home Building Skills Partnership, said:

“If we are to develop the capacity and build the high quality homes the country desperately needs, we as an industry must commit to recruiting and training the right people – now and in future. The skills gap, whilst acknowledged by the sector, requires a collective and committed response if we are to tackle it sustainably in the long term.  The challenges posed by Brexit with regards to skills only make the need for effective collaboration more acute.

“It’s now the right moment to build on the achievements of the Home Building Skills Partnership over the last year and together send a powerful message, not only to the wider home building sector, but to government, education and careers providers, and of course, future recruits.”

Jenny Herdman, Director of the Home Building Skills Partnership, added: “It is extremely encouraging to see momentum building for collectively solving the housing skills crisis.  We face a huge challenge but also have a unique opportunity to make a difference, and be part of a combined demonstration that a career in house building provides huge opportunities and prospects.

“We want to see the whole industry getting on board in the coming weeks, and working to make the skills gap a thing of the past. We urge all home builders to join us and sign up now.”

Alok Sharma MP, Minister for Housing, said: “This Government is committed to building many more homes in the places people want to live across the country. To do that we need an industry that has the right skills to build, including new and innovative methods.

“Our Housing White paper set out our plans to work with the Construction Leadership Council to encourage more investment in training. I’m pleased the HBF and CITB have committed to deliver 45,000 skilled workers by 2019.

“The Home Building Skills pledge shows the industry working collaboratively to ensure they’ve got a sustainable supply chain, and I look forward to seeing it result in even more skilled workers on the ground ready to build the homes this country needs.”