Home Builders Federation set to quiz members on post-Brexit reform of regulations

A cross-party drive to identify EU regulations that can be quickly amended as part of the Brexit process will make housing construction its initial focus, it has emerged.

Former Cabinet Office minister Oliver Letwin last week launched the Red Tape Initiative, which aims to find “quick wins” that can be implemented to help UK business improve productivity as part of the Brexit process.

In a subsequent interview with Whitehall magazine Civil Service World, former minister Letwin said he envisaged the programme would conduct around 10 sector-specific inquiries over the next two years, with the first looking at lifting burdens on the housebuilding sector.

That inquiry is set to begin in June, and will feature input from the Home Builders Federation, as well as other industry groups, Letwin said. The second inquiry will look into burdens on infrastructure construction and is due to start later in the summer.

The HBF told Building that it was too early to be specific about EU regulations that it wanted to see removed in the interest of helping the industry, but said members would be consulted.

Director of external affairs John Slaughter said: “‘We will be looking at a range of EU financial, technical and environmental requirements to see how unnecessary rules for achieving public policy objectives can be cut back for the future.”

Letwin told CSW that the Red Tape Initiative was designed to sit between the proposed Great Repeal Bill, which will repatriate EU law when the UK formally leaves the European Union, and future trade deals that will be negotiated to underpin a new relationship with the remaining 27 member states.

He said the initiative would provide recommendations to government, and it would then be up to ministers to decide how to proceed, but that the expectation would be that any regulation changes would relate to domestic industry and not impact on Brexit negotiations.

Changes to the EU Wild Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive are likely to be areas of interest to housebuilders, but it is unclear whether they would meet the initiative’s criteria for consideration.