The largest professional body for construction has launched its pre-election manifesto today

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The Chartered Institute of Building has cited late payment culture as one of the key challenges facing contractors and urged the next government to prioritise addressing the issue in the first 100 days after the election.

The professional body called on any future government to revisit the prompt payment code, which currently only applies to public contracts and is also optional and honour-based.

Its ’manifesto’ for the 4 July election also called for the creation of a green skills fund to develop a pipeline of workers with green construction skills, including training in retrofit coordination, heat pump installation, and sustainable modern methods of construction (MMC).

In addition, the CIOB emphasised the need for a national retrofit strategy to “incentivise and drive the full spectrum of retrofit works” necessary to enhance the energy and water efficiency of existing buildings.

The pre-election manifesto noted that the main barrier to retrofitting privately owned buildings is affordability.

Caroline Gumble

Source: CIOB

Caroline Gumble, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Building

As a result, the institute recommended the next government focus on offering financial incentives for retrofitting, such as grants and long-term interest-free loans, and reforming the VAT system to apply a 0% rate to retrofit works.

The document also advocated for a new part Z of the building regulations to ensure that embodied carbon is assessed on all projects, as part of a comprehensive whole-life carbon assessment.

On the quality and safety of new-build homes, the CIOB said it believed “more can be done to enshrine quality as a guiding principle in housebuilding and increase the level of protection that consumers have when making such a significant financial commitment”.

The body suggested that the next government review membership of the New Homes Quality Board and New Homes Ombudsman to understand whether or not it should be mandatory.

The CIOB highlighted that the Building Safety Act 2022 already grants these powers, and advocating for a mandatory ombudsman aligns with the findings of the Competition and Markets Authority’s recent study on the housebuilding market.

The manifesto added that “the housing development market has been dominated by a small number of large volume housebuilders whose resources and financial strength have allowed them to price out SME developers on materials and land values”.

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In the long-term, the manifesto recommended that future governments review the land value calculation system to understand the viability of alternative systems.

It proposed that if land was available at a more reasonable rate – for example, existing use value plus a 25% premium – developers would be incentivised to compete on the design and quality of the final product, rather than their ability to fund the initial land purchase.

Caroline Gumble, chief executive at CIOB, said: “Now the date for the UK General Election has been confirmed, we’ve launched our manifesto so we can engage with prospective parliamentary candidates while they’re developing their own campaigns.

“Candidates come from a range of backgrounds and don’t always understand the complexities and importance of the built environment sector, which is a major economic driver so it’s down to us all as the experts to educate them.

”It’s important they know what support is needed to enable the industry to play its part in creating a safe and sustainable built environment for everyone.”

Election focus

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With the UK set for a general election on 4 July, the country is facing some serious problems.

Low growth, flatlining productivity, question marks over net zero funding and capability, skills shortages and a worsening housing crisis all amount to a daunting in-tray for the next government.

This year’s general election therefore has very high stakes for the built environment and the economy as a whole. For this reason,

Building’s election coverage aims to help the industry understand the issues and amplify construction’s voice so that the parties hears it loud and clear.