NFB reaction and market insights to Conservative Manifesto

National Federation of Builders 2021

The Conservative party launched ‘Clear Action, Bold Action, Secure Future’, their manifesto for the 2024 general election.

Richard Beresford, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said:

“A healthy construction industry is the only way a nation can grow and unfortunately, construction has taken some great hits in these last five years. The Conservative manifesto announced tax cuts that will benefit our sector, particularly as almost fifty percent are self-employed; however, without pipelines of work, construction will not be able to avail from tax changes.

It is therefore frustrating that the Conservative manifesto intends to plough ahead with the recent changes to planning and housing policy which have caused new build completion to drop considerably.

We therefore have to question how 1.6million homes can be delivered, when previous more housing positive policy environments only delivered 835,680 homes over the previous five years.”

The eighty-page manifesto is written across sixteen ‘Our plan’ chapters, with many policies that construction will welcome.

• Shift from University education to technical qualifications and the Advanced British Standard
• Funding 100,000 apprentices
• Abolishing the main rate of self-employed National Insurance
• Simplify planning and speed up major infrastructure project sign off, so it takes only one year
• Reform Environmental Impact Assessments and other EU red tape which stops new housing
• Ensure statutory consultees improve development rather than frustrate planning applications
• Energy bill discounts for communities welcoming onshore renewables
• Fast track planning for brownfield housing and consider full expensing of brownfield sites
• Set land aside for smaller builders and lift Section 106 burdens on more smaller sites
• Abolish EU ‘Nutrient Neutrality’ rules
• SME focussed procurement reforms
• Abolish Stamp Duty for homes up to £425,000 for first time buyers and introduce a new and improved Help to Buy scheme
• Protect the green belt

Rico Wojtulewicz, Head of Policy and the NFB, said:

“The Conservatives have heard our manifesto asks on Section 106, infrastructure, Nutrient Neutrality and statutory consultee reforms. Reforms we have been pushing on for more than five years. However, most small builders will not qualify for support because the Government continues to see them as delivering fewer than ten homes, rather than the fifty that industry has been lobbying for over this past half decade.

We also have concerns regarding the commitment to brownfield and greenbelt protection, particularly as it is based on ‘gentle density’ in major cities and not ‘community density’ as the NFB has set out in its manifesto. This is because development built to a maximum of ten storeys, the gentle density definition, will pass the housing crisis on to the next generation as too few homes will be built, with mixed developments made broadly unviable. The NFB’s ‘community density’ approach ensures that in major cities, residential and non-residential needs are made viable in a well-designed and thoughtfully planned development.

There is much to welcome in the manifesto, particularly on apprenticeship and technical education; however, much of it was already on the table and policies that are currently decimating SMEs, such as the viability killing Biodiversity Net Gain not being reformed. Small builders will likely conclude that if the Conservatives were to win the next election, they would experience another parliamentary term of warm words but no action.”

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