UK construction and property
- Tax | HMRC’s construction tax helpline is piloting its “seasonal model” which means that it will be closed for the next three months.
- Migration | A report by the CITB found that only half of employers surveyed were aware of the new points-based migration system and only 7% had signed up to become a licensed sponsor. The CIOB’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager said that “migration is a vital factor in plugging the significant skills gap across the construction industry” but that these findings show there is a real need to increase the pool of domestic workers too. The organisations urged the Government to better engage with construction companies on the matter.
- Concrete inspections | A remote inspection platform for concrete, known as ALICS (Adaptive Lighting for the Inspection of Concrete Structures) has been developed by the University of Strathclyde and is expected to save asset owners up to £1m per day by detecting faults in civil engineering structures.
- Pay levels | The official CIJC rate of pay will increase 6%, with an additional 1.5% rise in the new year. Travel allowances, sick pay, and fare allowances will also increase.
- Infrastructure | Ofwat, the water regulator, has approved work starting on 10 storm overflow projects. Over the next two financial years, work worth £2.2bn on 33 schemes will begin.
- Health and safety | Surprise visits from HSE have fallen to a record low. The number of inspections has consistently fallen since 2010, with proactive inspections falling 34% since 2013/14.
- School rebuilding | The UK’s public spending watchdog has warned that the rebuilding of schools in England which are at risk of collapse is too slow and the scheme does not have enough funding. 24,000 of England’s school buildings are past their initial design life and 572 are thought to have been built with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete which is thought to have significant structural issues. In contrast, the Department for Education has reported that £7bn a year is a best practice level of capital funding to maintain, repair, and rebuild the school estate. It has been given an average of £3.1bn since 2016, and has spent an average of £2.3bn a year.
- Affordable Homes | In a significant policy change, Homes England has announced that funding granted by the Government’s Affordable Homes Programme 2021-2026 can be used to fund replacement homes, as well as new homes, as part of wider estate regeneration plans.
- Housing tension | Pollution rules such as those for waste water and sewage are a major obstacle to meeting the government’s target of 300,000 new homes a year, according to Baroness Scott of Bybrook. The Baroness told the House of Lords that development had been stalled in 27 areas covering 14% of England. The Home Builders Federation also claims that the rules are disproportionate and argues that the real cause of the issue is sewage dumping by water companies.