CTI Blog

CTI Blog - Renewed CTI looks at 2017 with confidence

This blog post is by David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF)

This feature also appeared on the Structural Timber Magazine, Spring 2017 edition

 

2017 is set to be a great year for the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI).

Thanks to an internal reorganisation and a revamped strategy, the Confederation has already started to intensify its initiatives with the aim of growing the UK Timber Industry.

As announced in an Industry Manifesto last autumn, CTI’s backbone now includes major trade associations such as the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), the Builders Merchants Federation, the Structural Timber Association (STA) and the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) offering their support and expertise.

These four organisations – in collaboration with major companies and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Timber Industries – are called upon to promote collaboration, share best practise and promote the Timber Industry case to key policy makers.

The first demonstration of the new CTI strategy was unveiled through a seminar held at the House of Commons in February 2017. Focused on the Housing White Paper issued by the Government and promoted by the Structural Timber Association (STA) and the Timber Industries APPG, the event showed how Offsite Timber Frame Construction could represent an effective and proven solution to meeting housing demand.

Industry figures show that the current production capacity is around 100,000 units per year and could easily scale up to 150,000 given the right policy frameworks.

In that occasion, Stewart Dalgarno, Director of Product Development at Stewart Milne Group clearly stated: “Housing is arguably the biggest social issue of our times, and a huge economic opportunity. The timber industry already has the capacity to help meet this demand and is already delivering around 60,000 units per year using proven offsite construction methods. This is not something for the future, we’re doing this now.”

However, to fully realise the potential of delivering over 150,000 offsite timber frame units per year by 2020 a more certain and long term commitment and policy framework is needed, along with an improved and widespread understanding of the benefits of using wood in construction.

A major step in that direction was taken just few weeks later, when the CTI joined forces with Wood for Good at Ecobuild 2017 to showcase the natural advantages of working with wood to develop sustainable communities and a low carbon economy.

For three days, experts from the Structural Timber Association, British Woodworking Federation, Timber Trade Federation, TRADA and Wood for Good were on hand to answer queries about this rapidly growing section of the construction market.

The CTI / Wood For Good joint stand also hosted two successful initiatives: the launch of the BWF Life Cycle Assessments through the new BRE LINA tool and the presentation of the new guide on the ‘Robustness of CLT Structures’ produced by the Structural Timber Association (STA).

The event clearly showed how a coordinated and targeted approach across the UK Timber Industry can help again put the sector in the spotlight.

With this in mind, the Confederation is going to undertake several tailored initiatives throughout 2017. The next project will be led by the British Woodworking Federation and focused on Apprenticeships and Skills. The seminar – to take place again at the House of Commons in Autumn 2017 – will see the participation of policy makers, Industry leaders and Sector experts.

In Winter, it will be the turn of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), called to organise and coordinate a debate on Sustainability and Quality of Standards across the whole Timber Supply Chain.

As underlined by many commentators, the 21st Century is definitely emerging as the Timber Age and what the Timber Industries need is a mouthpiece to push this message forward.

Well, the CTI is ready to play the role.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-renewed-cti-looks-2017-confidence]

CTI Blog - Values and Value: getting the message right 

This guest blog post is by Dougal Driver, CEO of Grown in Britain

 

This November will see the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, which enshrined rights to royal forest access for ‘free men’ of the time. A modern day Tree Charter has been created for the anniversary, aiming to reaffirm the connection between Britain’s people and its forests through ten principles.

These  include recognizing economic and employment potential alongside the roles of conservation, health and wellbeing that forests can provide. Of greatest concern to us at Grown in Britain is that society comes to value the right trees for the right reasons.

British timber was formerly seen by timber traders and distributors as a somewhat poor relation to imported stock. After massive investment by all the big producers across Britain in the last 20 years, that perception is now well out of date. Some of the big mills here in the UK operate at a standard certainly equal to, if not slightly ahead of, major mills in other parts of northern Europe. Kilning and quality control, and greater availability, have contributed to British timber representing just shy of 40% of the UK’s timber usage by volume in 2015, according to the latest TTF statistics. British timber’s economic value is therefore undisputed.  

The language used in many other forums where trees are discussed, however, still shows a gap in public understanding, which we must all work harder to close. Forest cover is talked of as being ‘lost’, with the implication that it’s ‘gone forever’, and trees are still talked of as being ‘cut down’, with its derogatory implications, rather than ‘harvested’. Grown in Britain is starting to tackle some of these perceptions, but we need the whole timber industry’s help in doing so. 

At home, at social gatherings, or even when taking family and children for walks, we should all play our part in helping others to understand that, for example, trees for harvesting and trees as valued habitats can exist in close quarter. We need to ‘normalise’ this concept of trees being harvested and replanted wherever we go in life, if the raw material that sustains our industry is not to be erroneously valued and our industry wrongly targeted by public opinion. British wood producers and an increasing number of timber merchants are choosing to highlight positively their connection with sustainable British timber through the Grow in Britain licensing scheme. 

The right to access forests for recreation, health and wellbeing, plus the benefits of doing so, and the environmental outcomes that forests support, are rightly valued by all. Where effort is needed is to dovetail these sentiments with industry’s capability to maintain such societal values alongside undertaking economic harvesting and production.  

We hope CTI supporters and stakeholders will all sign up to the Tree Charter principles. At the same time, we hope you’ll also help Grown in Britain to underline the economic value of our forests and woodlands by supporting more British producers, and bringing more British-grown timber into your supply chains.  

It’s the only way to ensure that values and value can co-exist sustainably for the future. 

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-values-and-value-getting-message-right]

CTI Blog - Timber is set to be a vital, dynamic part of UK industrial future

This blog post is by Roy Wakeman OBE, CTI Chairman

This feature is also included in CTI response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper

 

Timber; flexible, structurally strong and having the lowest embodied carbon of any commercially available commodity; contributes $600 billion to the global economy around 1% of global total GDP.

The World Bank forecasts the global demand for timber will quadruple by 2050. The timber supply chain is a key part of the manufacturing and construction industries in the UK adding an annual value of over £10 billion to the UK economy. It provides jobs across a wide spectrum of skills, directly employing over 150,000 people across the country (with over 350,000 jobs reliant on timber).

Recognising that skills are critical to productivity, there are currently over 10,000 apprentices currently working towards a woodworking, carpentry or joinery qualification and it is predicted that approximately 4,000 apprentices are required to be recruited each year for the next four to keep up with demand.

The industry is constantly evolving and through the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) we are developing our core qualifications to ensure that they embrace latest and future requirements. The supply chain is attracting investment in manufacturing and logistic capacity, developing new products and innovations in a variety of sectors and applications. If this growth is to be maintained in a rapidly changing economic and political environment, we need to work together with Government to ensure the right policy and market frameworks are developed.

The CTI was formed in 2015 to do just this, acting as an umbrella organisation across the Timber supply chain. With the support and leadership of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), Builders Merchant Federation (BMF), British Woodworking Federation (BWF), and the Structural Timber Association (STA), as well as a network of individual companies and organisations, the CTI is lobbying to put the Timber Industries at the heart of the new industrial strategy.

The CTI will focus on several key themes to influence the development and expansion of the Timber supply chain: Sustainability; Value & Growth; Skills, Jobs and Training; and meeting our Housing needs. In these areas, we will work collaboratively to stimulate growth and productivity, providing pan-supply chain representation across the industry to ensure that timber is not just seen as a vital element of our industrial heritage, but that it remains a vital, dynamic part of our industrial future.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-timber-set-be-vital-dynamic-part-uk-industrial-future]

CTI Blog - Why Spring Budget looks good for business, but not so good for people in business

This guest blog post is by Iain McIlwee, CTI Director and Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF)

 

On the whole, the Budget is good for business, but not so good for people in business. The focus is on productivity and, as per our submission, it has picked up the areas of skills, business rates and investment. 

On the up side, it is positive that the Chancellor has addressed concerns around complexity of claiming R&D relief and on business rate valuations.  It is hard to say without the detail how much relief these reforms will provide, but we stand ready to work with those members worst affected to help them to present their case. 

It is vital that the Chancellor doesn’t, however, just chuck the inadequacies of this system over the fence to the new regional mayors - the situation needs to be monitored carefully, ringfencing Business Rates to support local government is very different to ring fencing them to support local businesses and further rises could be a brutal reality in some parts of the UK. 

It is worth noting that some of the gains for business will be offset by changing the tax structure for business owners, the Chancellor is in danger here of taxing hardworking SME business owners in a blunderbuss attack on disguised employment.  

Our disappointment is really on skills - more funding for Further Education is welcomed, and yet again we heard of the importance of parity of esteem, but we remain unconvinced that the reforms announced will put this behind us. The ‘T-levels’ may simplify (although the scope of these qualification makes the 'T' somewhat misleading) and we have already started the process of mapping our qualifications, but this is not the root of the problem.  It is simply wrong that we push the brightest towards the academic routes regardless of their wider skills and the UCAS process exacerbates this. 

Adopting a UCAS equivalent process is something BWF has been proposing for quite some time now, it is great to see that it has been taken forward by tte Industrial Strategy, but waiting til 2021 is not an option, we need prompt action to break the behaviours that are holding back recruitment for our sector. 

Finally I heard a lot about making things better for the next generation when it comes to wealth, but not so much on natural resources – it is concerning that sustainability seems to refer to the resilience of fiscal policy rather than treading lightly and not leaving future generations an environmental as well as a monetary mess to deal with.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-why-spring-budget-looks-good-business-not-so-good-people-business]

CTI Blog - Driving the policy agenda on Value & Growth

Dirk VennixThis blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Over the Easter break I was thinking it would be good if we gave an update on the steady progress we’re making with the CTI’s Value and Growth report. This is being produced by Egan Consulting and kindly sponsored by Arbor Forest Products.

Last year the CTI’s supporters working group for this policy area, which included six trade associations and several timber export organisations, discussed the key issues at our first meeting. It was clear from the off that more needs to be done to help increase the use of sustainable timber. So far industry dialogue with Government on incentives for growth had been quite limited whilst the sector has had to deal with tough economic times and is only just starting to show some modest signs of growth.

In order to drive this important agenda forward supporters and members asked the CTI to assess the various sector markets and investigate the potential for new policy incentives. To start with we had to get a better understanding of the growth opportunities and competitive pressures throughout the timber supply chain.

The working group agreed that we needed to ask some key questions:

•             What are the growing markets and which have potential to grow faster? 

•             Which markets are struggling and need a boost?

•             Where do the timber industries need more government support?

As part of the internal consultation Egan Consulting conducted a process mapping exercise kindly assisted by Structural Timber Association and TImber Trade Federation. This is where CTI supporters representing a range of sector markets provided valuable input. Subsequently, we asked a number of companies to pitch for the project which would collate existing market data, identify the opportunities and threats to markets within the timber supply chain and identify their specific prospects from now until 2020.

But before the CTI could commission the report we had to secure funding to cover the costs and we are very grateful to independently owned Arbor Forest Products for providing us with invaluable sponsorship. As the first business member of the CTI they have been very supportive of the formation of the CTI and its objectives from its inception. Award-winning Arbor Forest Products is a major UK wide timber business and supplies more than 225,000m3 of quality timber to the building, DIY and construction trades, through independent merchants, each year.

Thanks to Arbor’s generous support the CTI was able to commission Egan Consulting. Peter Egan and Allen Erskine have now nearly finalised a draft report which will include an overview of timber consumption in the UK as well as forecasts relating to markets such as sawmilling, timber trade, wood based panels, processed wood, fencing, builders’ merchants, construction, furniture, packaging, pulp and paper. The report will be presented at the CTI's inaugural industry conference, kindly sponsored by premium sponsor CIFS Nexus, in May/June this year.

If CTI members are interested in a preview of the draft report’s provisional findings the CTI’s Value and Growth working group will be meeting again in London on 15 April to discuss the initial outcomes. Do get in touch with the CTI if you would like to attend.

 

[Blog URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-driving-policy-agenda-value-growth]

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