Industry still blighted by serious payment issues, CICV survey reveals

Industry still blighted by serious payment issues, CICV survey reveals

Construction businesses in Scotland are still suffering the scourge of late payments, outstanding retentions and unexpected charges, a new survey by the CICV has revealed.

Some 68% of respondents said their payment terms were altered negatively, with 60% claiming adjustments to payments were made with little or no explanation. And 69% of those surveyed said the time and cost of chasing outstanding moneys was their most significant problem when it came to payment.

The in-depth survey on cashflow and payments was undertaken to help an accurate picture of the current financial landscape in the Scottish construction industry.

Answered by those businesses which operate both as main and subcontractors in the public and private sectors, its key findings included:

  • 52% reporting that they still have problems getting retentions paid
  • 44% revealing that they had been hit with unexpected charges
  • 40% disclosing that they “always or often” had payments reduced
  • 30% saying payment delays have a “major impact” on their company.

Some 50% of respondents said they required external assistance to deal with payment disputes, with 54% saying they had referred a dispute to adjudication.

And 62% of those surveyed also said they were aware of project bank accounts, but only 17% had actually used them.

Len Bunton, Chair of the CICV’s Pipeline & Commercial sub-group, said:

“From these findings, it is clear – and also rather depressing – that cashflow and payment issues are still major problems in the construction industry in Scotland.

“It is especially frustrating to see so many financial disputed still going to costly adjudication and so little take-up of solutions like project bank accounts and the Conflict Avoidance Process – despite evidence that they do work and help to improve all-important cashflow.”

The survey also invited respondents to provide anecdotal evidence of cashflow and payment issues, along with suggestions of how to improve the current situation.

One said: “I’d like to see less subcontracting and more directly employed trades so there’s a joined-up process and effectively one large purse with collective ownership. The minute we sub-contract we divide, and priorities, focus and responsibility aren’t truly shared.”

Another told the poll: “We have problems with the public sector with too many authorisations that prolong and delay payment. A simplified process would help.”

A third added: “Many years ago, main contractors had to show proof of payment to sub-contractors before they received their next payment. Implementing such a practice for all sub-contractors would hugely improve the payment process.”

While a fourth respondent said simply: “Employers need to be held accountable and measured against the agreed payment terms within the building contract.”

The CICV is now devising a series of measures to help combat issues highlighted in the survey, including the imminent publication of a best practice guide. The collective is also planning an online webinar, offering contractors practical advice to help them avoid payment pitfalls.

David MacDonald, who is also a member of the CICV’s Pipeline & Commercial sub-group, added: “The many troubling issues highlighted by this survey simply reinforce the need for the industry to resolve matters before they escalate into disputes.

“The best practice guide, to be published by the CICV shortly, is designed to be used to eliminate poor commercial management and assist contractors to be much more alert to potential problems and risks.

“The planned webinar will also help contractors navigate the perilous waters of payment, which are clearly still littered with many difficulties.”

The survey is the latest in a string of practical and constructive initiatives launched by the CICV since its creation as the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum in March 2020.

Made up of 28 trade associations, professional services bodies and companies, it has maintained a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, producing animations and posters, hosting webinars and maintaining close dialogue with Scottish Government ministers.

  • A full copy of the survey can be download here.
Consultations launched to support Building Safety

Consultations launched to support Building Safety

The Health and Safety (HSE) and Building Safety Regulator (BSR) have recently launched several consultations and research in connection with building safety.

Professional Conduct Rules for Registered Building Control Approvers (RBCAs)
The BSR will be operating as part of the HSE from April 2023. Building control professionals will have to register with the BSR to perform building control work in England. The professional conduct rules sets out standards of professional conduct and practice that registered building control approvers are expected to meet.

The professional conduct rules are mandatory principles of conduct and standards applying to all who wish to register with the BSR as Registered Building Control Approvers (RBCA) in the private sector.

The HSE are seeking views on the proposals and the consultation closes on 17 February 2023.

Draft Code of Conduct for Registered Building Inspectors
Building control professionals will have to register with the BSR to perform building control work in England. The code of conduct sets out standards of professional conduct and practice that registered building inspectors (RBIs) are expected to meet.

The code of conduct are mandatory principles of conduct and standards of behaviour for RBIs, whether they work in the private or public sector.

HSE are seeking views on the proposed code of conduct and the consultation closes on 17 February 2023.

Managing Building Safety
The BSR is inviting views on their information document that highlights the necessary competency for those managing high risk buildings (HRBs), including a summary of the recent British Standard, publicly available specification (PAS):

  • PAS 8673:2022 Built environment – Competence requirements for the management of safety in residential buildings – Specification

 The consultation will close on 24 April 2023 and can be found here.

Building Safety Competence Information for Principal Contractors and Principal Designers
The BSR is inviting views on their information document that highlights the necessary competency for the new principal designer and principal contractor roles, including a summary of the recent British Standards, publicly available specifications (PAS):

  • PAS 8671:2022 Built environment – Framework for competence of individual Principal Designers – Specification
  • PAS 8672 Built environment – Framework for competence of individual Principal Contractors – Specification

 The consultation will close on 24 April 2023 and can be found here.

HSE Research Project – Accountable Person and Principal Accountable Person
The HSE has commissioned an independent research agency, Kantar Public, to interview people working in private and public sector housing organisations who will be an Accountable Person or Principal Accountable Person; will make decisions about the role; are knowledgeable about the role; and/or who will work on important aspects of the role (such as building registration, resident engagement and complaints handling).

All interviews will be conducted by independent, experienced researchers at Kantar Public. For further information or to register your interest to participate in this research, please email marios.zampetis@kantar.com

FIS announces Innovation Awards Shortlist

FIS announces Innovation Awards Shortlist

FIS has announced the shortlist for its inaugural Innovation Awards. The awards aim to shine a light on innovation, debunking the myth that our sector is not innovative.

The Awards comprise four categories, Digital, Sustainability, Product-Fit Out and Product – FF&E. A judging panel was set up for each category, who indpenedetly assesed all entries.

Digitl

  • FireDNA – Monitoring Passive Fire Products
  • Chalkstring
  • Performance Based Pay

Sustainability

  • Breathaboard
  • Awallsz Prefabricated Solutions
  • DESSO Origin

Product – Fit Out

  • eekowall
  • Siderise MC Mullion Overclad
  • Drywall Pro-Cut

Product – FF&E

  • Rockfon
  • Wiesner-Hager
  • Yo-Yo DESK Ltd

Congratulations to those who made the shortlist, and thank you to everyone who entered. We will be announcing the winners at the FIS Awards Ceremony on 27 February in London. Reserve your place here.

CPA forecasts recession in construction for 2023

CPA forecasts recession in construction for 2023

The construction industry is expected to endure a recession this year after two strong years for the industry. According to the Construction Products Association’s Winter Forecasts, construction output is expected to fall by 4.7% in 2023 before recovering slowly in 2024 with growth of just 0.6%.

The construction industry is not immune to the impacts of a wider UK economic recession, rising interest rates and inflation. Private housing new build, the largest construction sector, and private housing repair, maintenance, and improvement (rm&i), the third largest sector, are forecast to be the worst affected sectors this year. Falls in activity in these areas are expected to be partially offset by continued growth in infrastructure, the second largest sector, which is already at historic high levels of activity. Even here, however, there are growing concerns over the impacts of double-digit construction cost inflation. Given financial constraints for government, this means that we are likely to see the value of activity expected previously but not the volume.

Private housing is forecast to be the sector most affected by the downturn and fortunes for the sector over the next 12-18 months are likely to go one of two ways. The main forecast anticipates a soft landing for the housing market, which involves a sharp decline in demand during 2022 Q4 and 2023 Q1 before a recovery in demand this Spring. Even still, private housing output in 2023 is forecast to experience an 11.0% fall as housebuilders focus on completing existing developments rather than starting new sites. This fall is primarily due to rising mortgage rates, falling real wages and poor consumer confidence. Plus, there is now a less friendly government policy environment for housebuilders, given the end of Help to Buy, the Residential Property Developer Tax and the Building Safety Levy. The largest impact of the decline in demand is likely to be on property transactions, which are anticipated to fall in 2023 by around 20% whilst house prices are anticipated to decline by 8% -10%. After two consecutive years of double-digit growth, house prices will return to levels seen around a year ago. However, if demand doesn’t recover from Spring as mortgage rates continue to fall, private housing could fall even further, as is outlined in the CPA’s Lower Scenario.

Private housing rm&i output was driven to historic high levels in 2021 due to increased working from home and a ‘race for space’. With falling real wages, poor consumer confidence and double-digit construction cost inflation, many homeowners were quick to start delaying smaller, discretionary improvements work and output has been falling since March 2022. Larger improvements work, however, continued last year as households had pencilled in the finance for it at the start of 2022. Given further expected falls in real wages and increases in mortgage payments for many households this year, a further decline in private housing rm&i output of 9.0% is forecast in 2023. This will focus on a fall in larger improvements activity, before slow growth of 1.0% in 2024 as activity recovers in line with the wider UK economy. Unsurprisingly, however, one area of private housing rm&i that continues to remain strong is energy-efficiency retrofit; given homeowner concerns over energy prices, insulation and solar panel installations activity is currently buoyant.

Infrastructure continues to go from strength to strength, reaching historic high levels in 2022 as it benefitted from multi-billion pound projects such as HS2, the Thames Tideway Tunnel and Hinkley Point C as well as long-term frameworks activity in sub-sectors such as rail, roads and energy. Going forward, further growth in infrastructure output is expected but it is likely to be slower than in previous years due to cost inflation and financial constraints. The Chancellor stated clearly in the Autumn Statement that capital expenditure would be maintained in cash terms. In the near-term, this is likely to mean that current central government projects go overbudget given double-digit construction cost inflation. Also, there will be hesitancy from the public sector signing up to new projects due to uncertainty over costs spiralling further. In addition, financially constrained councils are likely to cut spending on new projects to cover the rising costs of essential repairs and maintenance. In the medium-term, projects towards the end of the government’s Spending Review are expected to be pushed back into the next review period due to budgetary constraints. After 4.9% growth in 2022, infrastructure output is forecast to rise by 2.4% in 2023 and 2.5% in 2024.

CPA Economics Director Noble Francis: “The construction industry has enjoyed a buoyant two years since the first national lockdown largely shuttered the industry back in Spring 2020 and activity still remains high for the moment. Overall, however, construction output is forecast to fall by 4.7% this year. It is worth keeping in mind the broader context that this is not 2008 and the decline is nowhere near the fall in output that occurred in the last recession. Looking back 15 years ago, construction output fell by 15.3% over two years during the global financial crisis.”

“Private housing and private housing rm&i, two of the three largest construction sectors, are highly dependent on the wider UK economy, interest rates, real wages and consumer confidence. So, as the UK economy falls into recession, interest rates rise, real wages fall and consumer confidence remains poor, construction output will fall sharply in these sectors. These falls will be partially offset by continued growth in infrastructure but that means that it is more important than ever that government maintains its commitments to meeting its own targets by investing in levelling up, its infrastructure pipeline and transitioning to Net Zero.”

FIS Sector Guide puts competency and building safety under the spotlight

FIS Sector Guide puts competency and building safety under the spotlight

With the construction sector under ever-closer scrutiny in relation to competency, a new Sector Guide – Competency Management Plans has been launched by the Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) to assist organisations in the improvement of quality and safety and ensure they meet new regulatory requirements.

This new Sector guide – Competency Management Plans will provide examples and signposts to available information and assist organisations in improving quality and safety whilst at the same time ensuring that they meet the requirements of legislation and avoid any enforcement penalties.1  The guide aims to address the regulatory regime as part of the long-awaited Building Safety Act which sets out clear duties and responsibilities for those who commission, design, construct and refurbish higher-risk buildings as well as those responsible for ensuring buildings are safely managed when occupied.

A Competency Management Plan is a critical document for any organisation working in the finishes and interior sector of the construction industry and must be embedded within the culture of the business and embraced within any quality management process.

The guide has been produced by FIS and is designed to contextualise and help to structure and improve existing processes.  It is structured to help form a strategy for assessing competence and provides guidance to suggested CMP content including organisational and occupational competence, functional requirements, creating job descriptions, competency and training plans, appraisal process and succession plans.

Commenting on the guide, Iain McIlwee, Chief Executive of the FIS said:

“The Building Safety Act has become law and we need as a sector to ensure we have robust processes in place to meet the exacting competency requirements.  This new FIS sector guide will provide the necessary guidance to enable organisations to formulate a Construction Management Plan, which will be key to progressing through the relevant gateways and ensuring the Building Safety Regulator can allow a project to proceed.”

In addition to the availability of the new Sector Guide – Competency Management Plans, FIS has been working with My Professional Pass (MPP) to help support a universal approach to competency passports in the sector. The FIS Competency Passport system will store, retrieve, view and monitor training and qualification achievements of individuals and records of experience. Individuals registered with MPP, self-employed or directly employed can give organisations access to their records.

The Sector Guide – Competency Management Plans is freely available from the FIS website here https://www.thefis.org/skills-hub/competency/

 1 At the time of writing penalties have not been published for failure to comply with the Building Safety Act, but consultations on this and enforcement associated to wider changes to the building regulations are taking place.

Apprenticeship Reviews in England and Scotland

Apprenticeship Reviews in England and Scotland

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) are in the process of reviewing the English apprenticeship standard for Plasterer. The latest update indicates a level 3 apprenticeship outcome is being considered for Plasterers.

Following the outcome of the Plasterer apprenticeship review and some cliches in the End Point Assessment, the Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship standard will be reviewed this year. At the time of writing no start date has been indicated. Skills Development Scotland is reviewing the Apprenticeship Framework for Interior Systems, to be known as Fitting Building Interiors. To find out more and register for either the Employee Workshops or, Technical Expert Groups, please respond direct to Laura.Brady@sds.co.uk or, register your details using the link below https://www.apprenticeships.scot/about/apprenticeship-development/get-involved/

Although Trailblazer and Technical Groups are in place for these occupations FIS are forwarding details of employers wishing to be involved in these reviews. If you are interested please contact georgeswann@thefis.org or beenanana@thefis.org providing your contact details and stating which nation and which occupation, we will be happy to help.

Your Guide to the New Building Safety Regime

Your Guide to the New Building Safety Regime

The Building Safety Act is the foundation of a new building safety regime for the construction sector and represents the most significant change to industry regulation in a generation. With many of the new requirements coming into force this year, FIS members have access to a newly published comprehensive overview of the regime, compiled by Build UK. This guidance will ensure all members are aware of their responsibilities and includes information on:

  • New bodies that will provide effective oversight of the new regime
  • New responsibilities for all those who design, build, own or manage Higher Risk Buildings
  • New systems designed to improve levels of competence and formalise processes
  • Existing legislation which will be reformed
  • Other activities outside the scope of the Act but related to building safety.

The guide will be regularly updated as secondary legislation and supporting guidance from industry is published. It has been welcomed by Dame Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Industry Safety Steering Group, who said:

“This guide provides Build UK members across the supply chain with a clear and accessible summary of what the Building Safety Act means for them and their organisation. I urge you to not just read this guide but to then discuss what it means for your organisation and how your practices need to change.”

New learning pathway aims to build sustainability knowledge

New learning pathway aims to build sustainability knowledge

The FIS Sustainability Leadership Group is pleased to announce the launch of a learning pathway which was developed in collaboration with the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

The ‘FIS Sustainability Awareness: Doing Business Better’ learning pathway is aimed at all those curious about sustainability or looking to improve their knowledge of the subject. The aim of this pathway is to demystify sustainability by clarifying some of the language associated with the topic, such as sustainability strategy, waste management, net zero, circular economy, wellbeing, modern slavery, fairness, inclusion and respect and social value. Two optional resources are also included, covering science-based targets and embodied carbon.

FIS Sustainability Champion Flavie Lowres said:

“I am really excited about this course; as it takes only 20 minutes to complete and I hope it will allow all members of an organisation to upskill on some of the important sustainability topics”.

Special thanks to the Supply Chain Sustainability School, BW, Bryson, Lumybel, ISG and Zentia for their help in developing the course. Access the pathway here

Reminder issued to avoid further competency crisis

Reminder issued to avoid further competency crisis

The Construction Leadership Council have issued a statement encouraging and reminding Industry Accreditation card holders to take action to retain their card in light of changes to “grandfather rights” that will be implemented from the end of 2024.  The statement issued was: 

CLC Statement on Industry Accreditation Cards
Building Safety and competence are two of the CLC’s priorities. As an industry, and in accordance with various sets of legislation including the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) and the Building Safety Act, we must demonstrate to the regulator, our clients, building occupiers and the wider public that those designing, building and maintaining the built environment are competent to do so. The CLC recommendation introduced in 2015 and updated in 2017 and 2020 set an expectation of all CSCS cards being achieved via qualification by the end of 2024.

The different ways in which those individuals who hold a blue, gold or black industry accreditation card (issued by CSCS, via industry accreditation) can move to an appropriate card has been set out. This may be by:

Recognising a qualification they already have.

  • Assessing their competence against the relevant qualification for their occupation.
  • Undertaking any additional training required.
  • For a minority, it may require more extensive training.

Whilst all Industry Accreditation cardholders are required to take action to retain their card from January 2025, it should not be overly onerous for those able to demonstrate their competence and there may be grants and funding available for employers.

Commenting on the upcoming changes and new guidance FIS Skills and Training Lead George Swann stated:

“Companies need to be checking now how their workers are qualified and when this will expire.  As competency checking ramps up in the wake of new legislative requirements, we don’t want to find a new raft of workers becoming unavailable due to administration issues rather than ability.  A green labourer card is not the answer, your skilled workers need to show verifiable proof of competence for their employed occupation to meet the requirements of legislation.  If you need any help getting your workers qualified and carded appropriately for the work they are doing contact the FIS.  The FIS network of Training Provider members give offers and discounts to fellow members you may be surprised at how your FIS membership can support your employees and organisations proof of competence.”

All Industry Accreditation (IA) cards issued from 1 Jan 2020 will expire on 31 Dec 2024 and cannot be renewed.  This guidance is designed to help you understand your next steps to replace your card.  What you need to do next depends on your occupation and what qualifications you may hold.  If you do not visit site regularly, or you have moved into an office-based role you may no longer require a card.  Those needing to obtain a qualification DO NOT need to attend college. The SVQ/NVQ (S/NVQ) can be achieved via various routes and CITB grants may be available.

Further guidance for Industry Accreditation card holders is available at www.cscs.uk.com/ia

For more information please visit the Sector Guide to a Competency Management plan

Changes to Building Regulations and Cladding Systems

Changes to Building Regulations and Cladding Systems

With the Building Safety Act now in force, we are seeing changes to the wider building regulations continuing apace.  Below are two key changes of significant note.

  • The ban on the use of combustible materials in and on the external walls of buildings with a storey at least 18 metres above ground level has been extended to include hotels, hostels and boarding houses. Metal Composite Material panels with unmodified polyethylene core (MCM PE) have been banned on all new buildings of any height.
  • Announced last year, Approved Document B (Fire Safety) also now includes new requirements for external walls and balconies on new residential buildings between 11 and 18 metres in height to limit the combustibility of materials.

FIS is working on summarising key changes to Approved Document B across the wider scope of interior products, so watch out for this guidance in the coming weeks.

There also remains an open consultation on national classifications as a way of demonstrating compliance within Approved Document B. To find out more and feed your views into the FIS survey about this consultation, click here.

NHBC announces revisions to its Technical Standards

NHBC announces revisions to its Technical Standards

NHBC’s revisions to its Technical Standards are now live. The latest edition of the organisation’s Technical Standards applies to every new home registered with the new homes warranty and insurance provider where the foundations have been laid on or after 1 January 2023.

NHBC said its dedicated Standards team had spent the past year applying its expertise to a thorough review of all its technical content. It has been working with stakeholders across the industry “to ensure the Standards continue to provide trusted support and guidance for builders and developers”.

There have been significant changes and updates to several chapters, including:

  • aligning with British Standards, including BS EN 1992, BS 8666 and BS 8102:2022
  • updates to both concrete upper floor design and timber/joist deflection limits and to the weathertightness of windows, doors and glazing
  • new guidance on the provision of horizontal movement joints on masonry clad buildings and on supporting single leaf garage walls
  • addressing the low carbon agenda by:
    – increasing cavity wall widths due to improving thermal performance standards
    – a focus on renewable and sustainable technologies to reduce carbon footprint and provide alternative heating sources.

NHBC said its Technical Standards would continue to help builders and developers deliver “the highest possible new home standards and support the continuous improvement of the quality of new homes”.

Mark Russell, NHBC’s standards and policy manager, said:

“There have been significant changes to this year’s Standards to ensure they remain both relevant and accurate. We are sure the industry will find them a useful reference point as we all work to build safe, high-quality homes for everyone.”

Demand for construction workers high despite economic uncertainty

Demand for construction workers high despite economic uncertainty

Against a backdrop of economic challenge, rising materials and labour costs, new figures from CITB reveal that almost 225,000 extra workers will be required to meet UK construction demand by 2027.

CITB’s annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report shows that:
• 224,900 extra workers (44,980 a year) will be needed to meet UK construction demand between now and 2027
• Construction output is set to grow for all nations and regions, however, recession is expected in 2023 with slow growth returning in 2024
• The major sectors for demand are: – private housing – infrastructure – repair and maintenance
• If projected growth is met, by 2027 the number of people working in construction will be 2.67m

The report highlights that construction is expected to remain a sector where there is demand for workers despite the current economic uncertainty. As a result, recruitment, training, development and upskilling remain major priorities for the industry for 2023 and beyond.

CITB is responding by investing in apprenticeships, launching a range of targeted initiatives and working collaboratively with industry, to help the construction sector have a skilled, competent, and inclusive workforce.

Tim Balcon, CITB Chief Executive said:

“The latest CSN report clearly shows that despite current economic uncertainty, recruiting and developing the workforce remains vital to ensure the industry can contribute to economic growth.

We know the next 18 months won’t be easy, however, I remain inspired by the construction industry’s resilience shown in the pandemic and throughout 2022.

In short, it makes clear that the need to recruit and retain talent in the sector has never been greater. Whether that’s for building the homes the country needs, constructing energy and transport infrastructure or retrofitting the built environment to help drive down energy bills and meet net zero targets.

To bolster industry’s resilience, CITB will strive to attract and train a diverse range of recruits for industry, equipping them with modern skills for rewarding construction careers. I look forward to working with and supporting industry and stakeholders in the challenging times ahead and to emerging stronger when the recession ends.”

To help directly address these challenges and maximise the opportunities which will arise, CITB has invested almost £50m of Levy to support over 22,000 apprentices to help them join the industry; while grants have helped support over 16,000 learners to complete their qualifications.

Direct funding has provided grants over 269,000 training courses and in total £97m has been invested in grant funding by CITB, to make it as easy as possible for employers to recruit and retain their skilled workforce.

CITB continues to provide targeted support to SMEs through grant and funding and through support in accessing training and funding. Since April 2022, CITB’s engagement team has supported SMEs on 26,976 occasions, supporting them to continue to train during the current economic uncertainty.

CITB also offers funding aimed specifically at smaller companies such as the Skills and Training Fund. Companies with fewer than 250 PAYE employees can access up to £25,000 annually (depending on their size). By the end of quarter two 2022, £3.9m had been invested in companies via this fund.

CITB’s Scottish Academy for Construction Opportunities (SACO) commission has awarded £1.3m across the Highlands and Islands; while England Construction Opportunities (ECO) commission has awarded a total of just over £1.8m. This investment will directly help address the construction industry’s skills gap, increase employment retention, and provide vital support to new starters at the beginning of their construction careers, by promoting work experience for new entrants to the industry.

Experience Hubs across England and Wales are creating a talent pipeline to meet the needs of local construction employers and to support construction career opportunities for people from local communities.

Further CITB initiatives range from localised solutions for funding and training like our employer network pilot project, available to more than 3,800 levy-registered construction businesses across five locations in England, Scotland and Wales; to a £10.5m Leadership and Management commission which will provide funded courses for businesses of all sizes to equip supervisors and managers with a recognised Leadership and Management qualification.

Training remains a key focus, which is why CITB has invested in National Construction College (NCC) sites, to meet the industry’s specialist training needs. By focusing the curriculum on unmet demand, we are looking to build capacity for the industry, which has resulted in a 25% increase in the number of people trained to date. Our data shows that 96% of CITB apprentices have secured employment or progressed in education, with over 90% remaining in the sector.

Tim Balcon concluded:

“This coordinated and comprehensive approach to helping recruit, train, develop and upskill talent, whilst continuing to work collaboratively with industry and stakeholders means CITB will continue to play a central role in supporting an industry that is a key driver of the UK economy through these challenging times.”

FIS conducts census to support skills work

To help support this work, FIS is conducting a census of its workforce via its Skills Pulse Survey. This census will provide vital data to help understand where we are at now, target resources, support representational work and provide a framework for organisations to benchmark, and FIS to measure impact and progress.

Show your support for National Apprenticeship Week

Show your support for National Apprenticeship Week

National Apprenticeship Week will take place between 6 to 12 February 2023 and the theme for this year has been unveiled as Skills for Life, reflecting on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with future-ready skills

The week will focus on the benefits apprenticeships can have on individuals, businesses, and local communities. We are calling on employers, training providers, individuals and communities to get involved by encouraging everyone to consider how apprenticeships can help to provide #SkillsForLife.

From virtual career fairs, myth busting talks, graduation ceremonies through to factory tours, the week has something for everyone. You will hear personal stories from apprentices and employers about their own journeys and experiences and why apprenticeships provide #SkillsForLife. We are keen to celebrate the diversity and value that apprenticeships bring to employers, apprentices and communities across England.

To support National Apprenticeship Week 2023 individuals, employers, training providers and communities can get involved by encouraging everyone to consider how apprenticeships can help build #SkillsforLife. A toolkit is available to support the apprenticeship community with planning their activity for the week.

You can keep up to date with National Apprenticeship Week 2023 updates by following @Apprenticeships on Twitter and Apprenticeships on LinkedIn and use the hashtags #NAW2023 and #SkillsForLife on social media activity.

To find out more about apprenticeships, visit: www.apprenticeships.gov.uk.

 

 

 

FIS conducts census to support skills work

FIS conducts census to support skills work

Labour and skills shortages, and an aging workforce remain a key issue for the finishes and interiors sector. There is also a growing requirement to demonstrate competence. To this end FIS is conducting a census of its workforce via its Skills Pulse Survey. This census will provide vital data to help understand where we are at now, target resources, support representational work and provide a framework for organisations to benchmark, and FIS to measure impact and progress.

It should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete this survey and the closing date for responses is Friday 17 February 2023.

Government consultation on the removal of national classifications

Government consultation on the removal of national classifications

Government is consulting on the removal of national classifications as a way of demonstrating compliance with the guidance given with Approved Document B, Fire.

Construction products offering fire resistance (walls, ceilings, doors and floors) can be tested using either BS476 or BSEN 1364 tests depending on the products and other attributes such as load bearing, and this change will require all fire performance claims to be substantiated using BS EN 1364 tests.

So that FIS can provide a considered response to the consultation, we are interested in your views so we can gauge the impact of these changes and respond collectively. You can respond directly to us by answering the questions, here. responses are required no later than Monday 13 February.

If you have any questions, please email joecilia@thefis.org or call 07795 958780.

A copy of the full consultation can be read here

 

Delay to abolishing CE Marking, but flip flopping on test and assessments creates more uncertainty

Delay to abolishing CE Marking, but flip flopping on test and assessments creates more uncertainty

In a recent revised announcement UK Government confirmed that the deadline for ending recognition of the CE mark has been extended to 30 June 2025.  This was welcome news ahead of the New Year, albeit at the eleventh hour as it alleviated any concerns around immediate availability of product.  Guidance published in the New Year to clarify the position indicates a reversal of policy on recognition of EU test and assessments at ACVP 3 level and may open the flood gates to re-testing of existing product being imported.  The guidance offers an amnesty that there will be no enforcement on anyone who has or is in the process of making the transition to UKCA marking using EU Test data.

Commenting on the changes, FIS Iain McIlwee stated:

“It feels like three steps forward and two back.  This reversal of policy around recognition creates more uncertainty and an unusual situation where Government has written legislation, aspects of which it does not intend to enforce (at this stage), however, it leaves us with more questions than answers and we have simply kicked the can down the road.  We can only hope that this is part of a wider strategy and the negotiations ongoing have re-opened the door to mutual recognition which is what we have been calling for from the outset”.

You can read the full guidance from government here

To help with planning, FIS has updated its Conformity Marking – How-to guidance note. This can be downloaded here.

Lens Blog: Suspension

Lens Blog: Suspension

FIS Consultant Len Bunton looks at the Contractors Right of Suspension and the process that should be followed.

Members can see the full blog

These monthly Blogs are designed to help FIS Members avoid common traps and build on our focus on collective experience.  They share ideas about improving the commercial management of your contracts. In other words, instilling best practice into the way FIS members run and manage their business. What I have endeavored to suggest is ways to ensure you get paid on time, and what you are due.

The New Hospital Programme (NHP)

The New Hospital Programme (NHP)

FIS has met with the New Hospital Programme to understand how its members can support this ambitious programme effectively.  The commitment to build new hospitals forms part of the Government’s wider Health Infrastructure Plan, a long term, rolling programme of strategic investment in health and care buildings, estates, and equipment. The Government has committed to build 40 new hospitals by 2030 and together with eight previously announced schemes, this will mean 48 hospitals delivered by the end of the decade. The new hospitals will result in outdated infrastructure being replaced by facilities for both staff and patients that are on the cutting edge of modern technology, innovation and sustainability. Further details on the NHP can be found here.

Jonathan Hall from the Supply Markets Management Team stated:

“This is an ambitious programme and we are keen to work more closely with the supply chain and through organisations such as FIS to ensure that we are delivering value in all ways in a more collaborative and open way”.

As part of this new approach, the NHP inviting FIS members to respond to a Market Sounding Briefing and Questionnaire regarding the NHP’s ambition to deliver programmatic benefits through the standardisation of components that are common across hospitals.

We are seeking market feedback exploring potential opportunities, understanding existing challenges and ‘blockers’ to enable efficiencies and standardisation of components in a healthcare setting for second fix items including;

  • Internal doors
  • Wall partitions
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Lighting units
  • Air handling units
  • Flooring

Further components are being considered as part of an iterative approach to standardisation and we anticipate seeking further market feedback in due course.

The information the NHP’s receives during this market sounding exercise will be used to inform NHP’s strategy and further development of our plans for delivery. Feedback will also be used to inform, validate, and refine our emerging approach to modern methods of construction across the programme.

The link to the market sounding briefing and questionnaire can be found here. To encourage further responses to this Market Sounding Questionnaire, the NHP has extended the deadline for responses until 5pm on 20 January 2023. The NHP thanks all those who have reviewed and responded to the Market Sounding to date. 

Please do also feel free to contact the team directly at nhp.suppliers@nhs.net should you have further questions or queries in relation to the Programme.

Construction Product Availability Statement from the CLC

Construction Product Availability Statement from the CLC

Construction Product Availability: 21 December 2022

Statement from John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association, co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group.

Overall product availability is good and returning to pre-Covid levels, while some bricks, blocks, plasterboard and roofing products are occasionally still subject to disruption or allocation. Despite this, lead times for these products are now far lower than earlier in the year.

The availability of gas boilers and other products containing semi-conductors and electrical components remains the most problematic in terms of supply, as sub-component manufacturers operating in a highly competitive global market continue to experience restricted supply. In addition, the electro-technical sector has highlighted a new area of concern regarding the supply of solar and environmental products, with difficulty identifying those coming from Chinese manufacturers with the proper accreditation. This is a growing product area with increasing demand, so the UK construction industry is challenged to ensure such products are of the proper standard and quality.

Timber availability is good with further reductions in prices due to the large amount of stock already in the UK and reduced shipping costs. The one issue for timber centres on birch plywood which, due to sanctions, cannot be legally sourced from Russia. With limited supplies available from Latvia and Finland, we advise speaking to plywood suppliers regarding alternatives.

Shipping lead times from the Far East are improving, though China is now experiencing rising Covid rates following the relaxation of their lockdown regulations which may lead to more bottlenecks. However, with a surplus of containers in China and container rates generally down by 80% from their peak, this is a great improvement.

Price inflation for products has slightly moderated across the board this month, but looking ahead, rising energy and wage costs are expected to put significant upward pressure on prices in the New Year. In particular, manufacturers of energy-intensive products (such as bricks, cement, glass, insulation and plasterboard) warn that although many have been able to hedge energy costs through Q1 of 2023, energy prices in Q2 and Q3 are expected to be considerably above historical (pre-Ukraine war) levels without further Government support. Several plaster, plasterboard and insulation manufacturers have notified there will be double-digit inflationary increases in the New Year.

Against this, a gradual slowing of demand for construction products across most sub-sectors over the last three months of 2022 has helped ease the pressures on product supply. Most industry forecasts project further declines in demand in 2023 although some sub-sectors will fare better than others. With less strain on the supply chain, general product availability should have an opportunity to recover further.

For all the work FIS is doing around inflation and availability, including recommended contractual terms click here