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New government urged to move quickly on reforms

The new government has been congratulated on its general election victory by leading engineering services trade bodies, the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA).

ECA and BESA are now urging the government to use its new parliamentary majority to deliver much-needed reform and investment for the engineering and construction industries.

The two associations are calling for a new a five-point plan, notably to:

  • Active and prompt action in 2020 towards a low to no carbon UK, on the way to a net zero carbon economy.
  • Bring forward legislation to hold cash retentions in trust, as well as clamping down overall on late payment, thereby supporting SME businesses across the country.
  • Provide certainty to industry by committing to investment in key long-term construction projects and substantially investing in general infrastructure, including the railways and building 300,000 new homes every year.
  • Legislate promptly to ensure the full recommendations of the Hackitt Review and related consultations are enacted, to ensure public fire safety.
  • Help the engineering industry find and access the skilled people it desperately needs by strongly supporting apprentice and mature candidate training, as well as ensuring any proposed ‘Australian points-based system’ recognises the UK’s skills shortages.

BESA chief executive, David Frise, and ECA chief executive Steve Bratt, said: “SMEs and the skilled engineering workforce are vital to the delivery of a dynamic, low carbon UK economy. So, we particularly welcome the government’s pledge to ‘clamp down on late payment’. Ending poor payment practices remains one of the biggest concerns of our members and it is an essential part of changing the industry’s culture.

“Our recent industry-wide survey has shown these practices have serious economic and financial downsides, along with putting mental health burdens on SME owners and their staff.

“Furthermore, if done correctly and in close consultation with the industry, the proposed new building regulation regime could cement a better culture of competence and compliance within the industry, and crucially, save lives.”

13 December 2019

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