Where the political parties stand on BESA issues - The BESA
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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Where the political parties stand on BESA issues

BESA recently launched our 2019 General Election Manifesto and wrote to the four largest political parties with our policy proposals for:

  • Fairness and support for SMEs
  • Greener buildings
  • Industry Competence and Compliance
  • A Skilled Workforce for the Future

Both the Conservative and Labour parties have responded to say that their policy teams considered the BESA proposals as part of their manifesto development process. BESA's advocacy has been successful in putting our issues on the radars of the major political parties. Most importantly, each party has made some type of commitment on late payment. This election has also seen a stronger emphasis on policies to transform the built environment. No matter the result of 12 December, we now have a much stronger footing to lobby the next government and Parliament. 

BESA has compiled below what the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP manifestos have said about issues raised by BESA, as well other items that are relevant to the construction industry. 

 

Fairness and support for SMEs

Conservatives

  • “We will support start-ups and small businesses via government procurement, and commit to paying them on time. We will also clamp down on late payment more broadly and strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner to support small businesses that are exploited by their larger partners.”
  • “We will increase the Employment Allowance for small businesses.”
  • “We will cut the burden of tax on business by reducing business rates. This will be done via a fundamental review of the system.”
  • Corporation tax would remain at 19 percent.

Labour

  • “We will amend the Companies Act, requiring companies to prioritise long-term growth while strengthening protections for stakeholders, including smaller suppliers and pension funds. We will tackle late payments that leave small businesses waiting months to be paid, including banning late payers from public procurement.”
  • “For small businesses, we will ensure no quarterly reporting for businesses below the VAT threshold.”
  • Increase the main rate of corporation tax from 19 percent to 26 percent, and the small profits rate to 21 percent.

Liberal Democrats

  • “Require all government agencies and contractors and companies with more than 250 employees to sign up to the prompt payment code, making it enforceable.”
  • “Ensure that the company at the top of a supply chain cannot abuse its position to shore up its own cashflow at the expense of smaller suppliers.”
  • Increase corporation tax to 20 percent.

Scottish National Party

  • “One of the building blocks of a thriving business sector is contracts being met in full and on time. With too many of Scotland’s SME’s suffering from late payments, SNP MPs will support the introduction of effective legal protections to ensure small businesses are paid on time.”

 

Greener Buildings

Conservatives

  • “We will set up a new independent Office For Environmental Protection and introduce our own legal targets, including for air quality.”
  • “We will support the creation of new kinds of homes that have low energy bills and which support our environmental targets and will expect all new streets to be lined with trees.”
  • “We will help lower energy bills by investing £9.2 billion in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals.”

Labour

  • “Labour will introduce a new Clean Air Act, with a vehicle scrappage scheme and clean air zones, complying with World Health Organisation limits for fine particles and nitrous oxides.”
  • “We will upgrade almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes to the highest energy-efficiency standards, reducing the average household energy bill by £417 per household per year by 2030 and eliminating fuel poverty. We will introduce a zero-carbon homes standard for all new homes.”
  • “As part of heat decarbonisation, we will roll out technologies like heat pumps, solar hot water and hydrogen, and invest in district heat networks using waste heat.”

Liberal Democrats

  • “Pass a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organisation guidelines, enforced by a new Air Quality Agency. The Act will enshrine the legal right to unpolluted air wherever you live.”
  • “Cut energy bills, end fuel poverty by 2025 and reduce emissions from buildings, including by providing free retrofits for low-income homes, piloting a new subsidised Energy-Saving Homes scheme, graduating Stamp Duty Land Tax by the energy rating of the property and reducing VAT on home insulation.”
  • “Empower councils to develop community energy-saving projects, including delivering housing energy efficiency improvements street by street, which cuts costs.”
  • “Adopt a Zero-Carbon Heat Strategy, including reforming the Renewable Heat Incentive, requiring the phased installation of heat pumps in homes and businesses off the gas grid, and piloting projects to determine the best future mix of zero-carbon heating solutions.”
  • “Require all new homes and non-domestic buildings to be built to a zero-carbon standard (where as much energy is generated on-site, through renewable sources, as is used), by 2021, rising to a more ambitious (‘Passivhaus’) standard by 2025.”

Scottish National Party

  • “We will support substantial reforms to the UK tax system to support greener choices, with SNP MPs campaigning for:
    • tax incentives to enable people to make the switch to low-carbon heating systems more affordable.
    • a reduction in VAT on energy efficiency improvements in homes, ending the Treasury’s 20% tax on making people’s homes warmer and greener.

 

Industry Competence and Compliance

Conservatives

  • “We have already committed to implementing and legislating for all the recommendations of the Hackitt Review and the first phase of the independent inquiry. We will continue to work with industry, housing associations and individuals to ensure every home is safe and secure. And we will support high rise residential residents with the removal of unsafe cladding, and continue with our rigorous process of materials testing.”

Labour

  • A Labour government will bring system-wide change, so that a tragedy like Grenfell never happens again. We will introduce a £1 billion Fire Safety Fund to fit sprinklers and other fire safety measures in all highrise council and housing association tower blocks, enforce the replacement of dangerous Grenfell style cladding on all high-rise homes and buildings, while introducing mandatory building standards and guidance, inspected and enforced by fully trained Fire and Rescue Service fire safety officers.
  • “We will fund a new Decent Homes programme to bring all council and housing association homes up to a good standard.” 

Liberal Democrats

               N/A

Scottish National Party

              N/A

 

A Skilled Workforce for the Future

Conservatives

  • “In the next Parliament, we expect to train up hundreds of thousands more highly skilled apprentices. But we will go further and require significant numbers of new UK apprentices for all big new infrastructure projects – new hospitals, new schools, major transport projects and so on, being built with pride by a new generation of British workers.”
  • “As the centrepiece of our plan, we will create a new National Skills Fund worth £3 billion over the next Parliament. This fund will provide matching funding for individuals and SMEs for high-quality education and training. A proportion will be reserved for further strategic investment in skills, and we will consult widely on the overall design.”
  • “As well as encouraging investment in physical building and equipment, we will help employers invest in skills and look at how we can improve the working of the Apprenticeship Levy.”

Labour

  • “Labour will create a National Education Service to provide support and opportunity throughout your life: from Sure Start centres to top-quality early years education; well-funded schools with lower class sizes to free university tuition with no fees; and free lifelong learning, giving you the chance to reskill throughout your life.”
  • “Labour will make it easier for employers to spend the (Apprenticeship) levy by allowing it to be used for a wider range of accredited training, in line with guidelines set by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and government’s wider priorities for the economy.”
  • “We will launch a Climate Apprenticeship programme to enable employers to develop the skills needed to lead the world in clean technology.”
  • “Targeted bursaries will be available to women, BAME people, care leavers, ex-armed forces personnel, and people with disabilities to encourage them to take up climate apprenticeships – the STEM of the future.”
  • “We will further help small businesses by increasing the amount that can be transferred to non-levy-paying employers to 50% and introducing an online matching service to help levy-paying businesses find smaller businesses to transfer their funds to.”

Liberal Democrats

  • “Introduce new Skills Wallets for every adult in England, giving them £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their lives.”
  • “Expand the apprenticeship levy into a wider ‘Skills and Training Levy’ to help prepare the UK’s workforce for the economic challenges ahead with 25 per cent of the funds raised by the levy going into a ‘Social Mobility Fund’ targeted at areas with the greatest skill needs.”
  • “Develop National Colleges as national centres of expertise for key sectors, such as renewable energy, to deliver the high-level vocational skills that businesses need.”
  • “Identify and seek to solve skills gaps such as the lack of advanced technicians by expanding higher vocational training like foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships.”
  • “Introduce a Training up Britain program to make the most of migrants’ skills.”

Scottish National Party

  • “The UK government has introduced an Immigration Skills Charge – a charge for employers, including in the public sector of up to £5,000 per non-EEA worker. This fee penalises businesses, will lead to skills shortages, harm our economy and remove funding from frontline public services. We oppose this policy and remain concerned that the UK government will implement a similar charge for workers from the EU post-Brexit. SNP MPs will oppose any such moves and continue to press for the charge to be scrapped altogether.”

 

Relevant to Construction

Conservatives

  • “That is why we will continue our progress towards our target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. This will see us build at least a million more homes, of all tenures, over the next Parliament – in the areas that really need them. And we will make the planning system simpler for the public and small builders, and support modern methods of construction.”
  • “Introduce a new package of anti-evasion measures, including measures to end tax abuse in the construction sector, crack down on illicit tobacco packaging and further measures to avoid profit-shifting by multinational companies to avoid paying taxes.”
  • “To underpin this national renewal, we will invest £100 billion in additional infrastructure spending – on roads, rail and other responsible, productive investment which will repair and refurbish the fabric of our country and generate greater growth in the long run. For example, flood defences will receive £4 billion in new funding.”

Labour

  • “Labour will create a new Department for Housing, make Homes England a more accountable national housing agency and put councils in the driving seat. We will set out a strategy for a flourishing construction sector with a skilled workforce and full rights at work.”
  • “Labour will deliver a new social housebuilding programme of more than a million homes over a decade, with council housing at its heart. By the end of the Parliament we will be building at an annual rate of at least 150,000 council and social homes, with 100,000 of these built by councils for social rent in the biggest council housebuilding programme in more than a generation.”
  • “We will create a National Investment Bank, backed up by a network of Regional Development Banks, to provide £250 billion of lending for enterprise, infrastructure and innovation over 10 years.”

Liberal Democrats

  • “Investing £130 billion in infrastructure – upgrading our transport and energy systems, building schools, hospitals and homes, empowering all regions and nations of the UK and developing the climate-friendly infrastructure of the future.”
  • “New direct spending on housebuilding to help build 300,000 homes a year by 2024, including 100,000 social homes.”
  • “To build on the work of the Scottish Government, SNP MPs will push for an increase in the capital borrowing limits that restrict our ability to invest in infrastructure and grow our economy. We will also demand that Scotland gets a fair share of any investment by the British Business Bank and that it works closely with the Scottish National Investment Bank.”

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