The first week of March saw the UK Government’s Housing Week. Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Property Standards Director, provides a short youtube video with comments on the latest Government and Opposition statements concerning the housing market.

BRE has launched a new home quality mark, the mark aims to help everyone understand the quality, performance and attributes of a new build home. It will look to will give those buying or renting new homes the confidence that they are choosing a well built, cost-effective home. More can be found out on the dedicated website: www.homequalitymark.com.

The government has released unused public sector land, to be used for building over 103,000 new homes. The government is calling on councils and developers to help turn it into housing. And urging local authorities to follow this example and sell their redundant sites and buildings. The government has further plans to release land with capacity for 150,000 homes between 2015 and 2020.

As part of its Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) the Department for Business Innovation and Skills has awarded a £22.1 million grant to a consortium led by Laing O’Rourke. The four year grant is towards a £104m project for the advanced manufacturing of homes, buildings and infrastructure, supporting research and development, investment in new manufacturing facilities and training.

The HBF estimate over 100,000 extra new jobs have been created by growing UK house building over the past two years. At the end of January CITB told Construction News of research that forecast an additional 223,450 jobs would be needed over the next five years by UK Construction, to handle expected output growth to 2019. Barbour Product Search in their blog: UK Construction Skills Shortage: Should we be worried? reference research by HSBC and The Princes Trust saying 77 per cent of business leaders in the construction sector fear a skills shortage. On International Woman’s Day CITB released results of their industry poll, construction remains one of the most male-dominated industries in the UK, with men making up 85.5% of the total workforce, including 98% of all manual workers. This month with National Apprenticeship Week and the CITB Building Futures Summit we have seen recruitment for the sector gain momentum.

A-Plant announced a new record intake of 150 new apprenticeships. NG Bailey, Lafarge Tarmac, Amey, ICE have all Tweeted their support for National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2015, and here at Competitive Advantage we have welcomed our first Apprentice. On the Born to Build website a virtual construction site has been developed and asks “Where will you work in the construction industry?”. This month the HBF launched a new website aimed at raising awareness of the varied careers open to young people, www.housebuildingcareers.org.uk showcases the range of jobs that are involved in the development of new homes and communities. BIS’s Small Business Research Survey 2014 indicates that 32% of small and medium-sized employers expected to be employing more people in 12 months’ time. This will hopefully halt the decline in apprenticeship starts reported in the trade press and boost recruitment in the construction sector.

The proposed Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 (CDM) are due to come into effect on 6 April 2015. The NBS have written an article summarising the changes. The Green Construction Board has commissioned Chief Construction Adviser, Peter Hansford to undertake a review of Solid Wall Insulation. The review is to consider what more might be done to unlock demand. Written evidence is being invited to be received by 24th April, a report will be made June 2015.

At the end of February the government published the Manufacturing Supply Chains Action Plan, this looks at how government and industry will work together to help solve problems in the supply chains of the UK manufacturing sectors.

In EEF’s 2015 Manifesto: Securing a manufacturing renaissance, Britain’s manufacturers have set the next Government four key priorities to build on and secure the economic recovery, driven by increased exports, investment, innovation, and improved infrastructure and productivity.

Also at the end of February the Green Alliance published a document on Opening up Infrastructure Planning. The document sets out three fundamental problems with the current state of infrastructure decision making and makes three proposals for how these best be tackled.

Late payment to construction firms has been named as one of the top issues stifling the industry’s growth. Barbour Product Search provides a review of the Prompt Payment Code, one of the Government’s measures to help SMEs and asks can it help?

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