Boris Johnson could help ‘transform the built environment’, says BESA

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The new government team led by Boris Johnson has an opportunity to dramatically shift policy on the built environment and deliver higher standards of safety, sustainability and social justice, according to the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)

BESA has urged the new administration led by Boris Johnson to back up rhetoric around climate change with robust legislation; to enshrine the recommendations of the Hackitt Review to improve fire safety in buildings; and tackle the scourge of late payment that is undermining thousands of SME and driving many into insolvency.

It said the current lack of detail behind its commitment to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 could be addressed if government worked closely with specialist sectors like the building engineering industry. It also said the issue of overheating in buildings was becoming increasingly urgent and should be addressed alongside plans for reducing carbon.

Adoption of the Hackitt Review recommendations for ensuring a more competent workforce and enforcing compliance with legislation would help achieve the higher standards needed to deliver a higher quality building stock that could also help safeguard the health and well-being of building occupants, according to BESA.

The harm caused by late payment and retentions should also be addressed in order to provide the necessary business confidence for the specialist firms that would be pivotal to any climate change strategy.

BESA chief executive David Frise, said: “SMEs are under greater financial pressure than ever, which is making it increasingly difficult for them to invest in the technology and processes – and to recruit and train the skilled workforce needed – that will be crucial to the government’s zero-carbon vision.

“The collapse of Britain’s oldest construction firm – the 430-year-old Durtnell & Sons – shows the depth of the problem engulfing the sector with retentions and late payment taking a heavy toll on the firms most needed to deliver many of the low carbon solutions needed to meet the government’s target.”

BESA believes the Boris Johnson should throw his weight behind the Aldous Bill, which is already before Parliament and could protect retention money owed to SMEs. In addition, by ensuring wider adoption of Project Bank Accounts that safeguard the supply chain finance needed to keep projects on track, he could demonstrate his business credentials.

Also commenting on the announcement of Boris Johnson as PM, Melanie Leech, chief executive of British Property Federation, said: “We welcome Boris Johnson as the UK’s next Prime Minister – and the property sector stands ready to work with his Government, building on the announcement yesterday of a Built Environment Sector Deal.

“We also urge Johnson to bring forward, and get agreement to, proposals for an orderly Brexit. The UK must remain open, with the right conditions for investment and trade, to ensure we remain first choice for global talent as a place to live, study and work.”

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