CTI Blog

CTI Blog - Positive steps forward on apprenticeships and housing in Autumn Budget 2018

This blog post is by Helen Hewitt, CTI Director and CEO fo British Woodworking Federation (BWF)

 

On 29th October 2018, the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his Autumn 2018 Budget, the last before Brexit. We were pleased to see some positive measures which will help smaller businesses offer apprenticeships. The £695m initiative to reduce the cost of apprenticeship training for small businesses will halve the amount they have to contribute from 10% to 5%. UK’s SMEs are pivotal to the success of the apprenticeship scheme and this should go some way to resolving the growing skills gap in our sector and to help boost productivity.

Delivering a solution to end the UK’s housing crisis has long been on the political agenda and so we welcomed the Chancellor’s promise of a further £500m for the housing infrastructure fund to help build a further 650,000 homes. In addition, he pointed to strategic partnerships with 9 housing associations to “deliver 13,000 homes across England, up to £1bn pounds of British business bank guarantees, to support the revival of SME house builders.” On the surface, tapping into the potential of SME house builders to increase housing stock is a smart move. However, as we pointed out following the Spring statement, a successful housing strategy is not just about increasing supply. The fund now stands at £5.5bn, yet there was still no mention of an allocation to ensure that essential fire safety works required in existing social houses are paid for. So, the question still remains as to who will foot the bill.  

In more good news for house building, the importance of investing in our high streets with a £675 million Future High Streets Fund to allow councils to rejuvenate town centres could lead to benefits for members. With the Federation of Master Builders estimating last year that as many as 300,000 to 400,000 new homes alone could be created by making use of empty spaces above shops on our high streets, the Future High Streets Fund could be a further boost for residential accommodation.

The Chancellor pledged to publish a full response into the review of build out rates by Sir Oliver Letwin which concluded that large housebuilders are not engaged in ‘systematic speculative land banking.’ We welcome any move to reduce bureaucracy in the planning system and look forward to the Governments response to the recommendations.

The collapse of Carillion left many wondering what the impact on subcontractors would be and called for a review of public sector construction contracts. Some clarity came on Monday when it was announced that public private partnerships will soon be no more with PFI and PF2 contracts abolished. Existing contracts under the PFI and PF2 system will be honoured but no new ones will be signed and a “centre of excellence” will be set up to manage the remaining contracts, worth approximately £200bn. However, more clarity is still required around how a new model will work to ensure that the infrastructure this country requires continues to be built.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-positive-steps-forward-apprenticeships-and-housing-autumn-budget-2018]

CTI Blog - Offsite timber construction has a major role to play in tackling UK Housing Crisis

This blog post is by Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA) and Member of the CTI Board of Directors.

 

Through discussion, debate and demonstration, the Government appears to have made the connection between construction and manufacturing and we have foreseen great potentialities within the ‘Industrial Strategy’ for offsite construction to play a significant part in delivering more homes to meet the shortfall in housing stock.

The Confederation of Timber Industries and the STA firmly believe that offsite timber construction is a great opportunity to reach the specified target of one million homes by 2020. With four out of five new homes in Scotland built using structural timber together with much of the housing volume in Canada, the US and Europe – we know that offsite timber solutions deliver.

In the main it will address many Government concerns associated with public procurement of housing including speed of build, environmental impact, lifetime energy efficiency and cost performance. These factors are not only of benefit to Government plans but to the wider construction industry. Cost savings, speed of build, faster return on capital outlay, reduction in waste, improved health and safety - are just some of the benefits of offsite timber construction. Add to this the unrivalled capacity and availability of materials within a robust supply chain combined with a sector that is quick to respond and it’s a clear choice.

Innovation in the structural timber product range has broadened the appeal, driven by intelligent and integrated construction solutions. We can demonstrate how easy, practical and efficiently projects can be completed, having a direct impact on transforming communities, while conveying the dynamic and fast-moving pace of the sector and the excitement that can be engendered when delivering innovative construction methods. 

UK manufacturers of structural timber components have a major role to play. We are geared for capacity, have the skills and materials to respond quickly and the experience to create a world-class offsite manufacturing sector in the UK. Current capacity is typically run on a single day shift only, making increases in output by multi-shifting relatively easy to do. Assuming full year outputs the sector can deliver around 150,000 units in 2020/2021, up from around 80,000 in 2017/2018.

I’ve never known such unified agreement that offsite construction is the solution - there is acceptance at pretty much every Government level, national, regional and local, that offsite is what is needed. The time is right for the construction industry to embrace innovative offsite timber technology and develop better buildings at a rapid rate to meet Government targets, to overcome the shortfall in housing stock, while delivering energy efficient buildings in a cost-effective quality manner.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-offsite-timber-construction-has-major-role-play]

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 - Structural Timber Offsite solutions can massively help solve UK Housing crisis

This guest blog post is by Andrew Carpenter, CTI Director and Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA)

This feature is part of STA response to the launch of the Government Housing White Paper

 

As Sajid Javid outlined what he called ‘the bold radical vision for the housing market’ and the government’s commitment to support offsite factory built homes, the CTI and the STA firmly believe that offsite timber construction is the only way to reach the specified target of one million homes by 2020. We welcome the government’s commitment to act as a catalyst for change in the wider housing market, through supporting offsite manufacturing techniques.

With four out of five new homes in Scotland being built from structural timber – we know that offsite timber solutions address many government concerns associated with public procurement of housing including speed of build, environmental impact, lifetime energy efficiency and cost performance – these factors are all largely beneficial not only to government plans but to the wider community.

Offsite manufactured structural timber systems have advanced greatly in recent years and can offer house builders cost, programme and performance assurances. Structural timber solutions outweigh other sectors in regards to volume of materials – the sector is quick to respond and can add capacity at a relatively rapid rate to meet demand. Shortages in other traditional construction materials will continue to encourage larger builders and specifiers to look to alternatives.

Innovation in the structural timber product range has broadened the appeal – the industry is no longer defined simply by the supply of timber frame kits and panelised solutions. It is driven by intelligent and integrated construction solutions, such as closed panel timber frame, structural insulated panel systems and volumetric modular options. Manufacture in well managed factory conditions, with stringent controls in place - minimises waste and optimises both quality and productivity.

As the government pledge support for small and medium size developers, as well as initiatives for self and custom builders – in theory there is a lot of positive content in this White Paper. Making the planning system more accessible and releasing land that is currently in public sector ownership, will certainly have an impact but only time will tell how it works in practise.

The time is right for the construction industry to embrace innovative timber technology and offsite techniques to develop better buildings at a rapid rate to meet government targets, to overcome the shortfall in housing stock and produce energy efficient buildings - particularly important for the social housing and private rental sectors, together with home owners and occupiers.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-structural-timber-offsite-solutions-can-massively-help-solve-uk-housing-crisis]