CTI Blog - Engaging with politicians both nationally and locally
This blog post is by CTI Chairman Roy Wakeman OBE. It originally appeared on the CTI Newsletter Winter 2017-18.
Whilst politicians come and go, their influence is continuous and so it is vital that the timber Industry engages fully with their local and national politicians and representatives.
It is so because our Industry whilst large, adding over £10bn to the UK economy and creating overall employment in direct and indirect trades of nigh on 500K people, has serious competition. This in the form of competing materials who display more aggressive lobbying techniques than we traditionally do.
Yet our message is fundamentally in today’s age stronger, whether for environmental issues, commercial advantage, productivity and if home grown timber was favoured in R&D, a positive on the UK economy and trade imbalance.
Sometimes it is easier for us to concentrate on our own Company or individual industry issues while, in the wider world, events can be more influential to our growth and success.
I mentioned the home grown timber Industry where some politicians might just think of this as a Scottish out post cottage industry or some historic way of delaying and maybe avoiding tax. But if invested in a radical way so that the species of timber to be grown can be proven to have a secure market to replace imported goods then the UK benefits both for employment and the balance of trade.
In vogue, today is the housing shortage and affordable housing for our future generations. We have a strong off-site production capacity that could be helped with a major investment that targets “kit-houses” designed for onsite erection with low costs.
Our imbalance of trade in the joinery industry is such that we need to address the reasons for our uncompetitive base and to explore with our politicians these reasons and thereby addressing the areas of need for investment and training. We consume more doors per capita than anywhere else in the world due to our history of small houses with lots of rooms and have become a natural target for global manufacturers based overseas to direct products at the UK.
We developed the factory assembled door set and in the case of fire door sets all that is necessary to obtain the third-party certification necessary to guarantee performance. We need to keep the pressure on government to make third party audits and certification part of the building regulations and not just a side document to make sure that when buildings get built all the necessary safety features are built into the design. Also, to go further and through the insurance industry and financial instruments that fund buildings make regular Inspection schemes, part of the conditions.
All these areas are not new to us but we do seem to have the habit of dropping the batten. It needs a war of attrition so that all of us every day call for the action and keep the pressure up on our law makers to improve the health of our Industry. Only this new, collaborative approach will really help keep our people housed and safe, using what is and has always been the world’s best and truly renewable building material: timber.