Does the development industry deserve to be on the nice list this year?
After a year of ups and downs for the development industry, we decided to review the biggest stories from 2021 to see if the industry has made it onto Father Christmas’s naughty or nice list this year…
There was an optimistic start to 2021, with the government’s announcement of a UK-EU trade deal reassuring the construction industry. Highlights of the agreement for the construction industry included zero tariffs or quotas on trade between the UK and the EU (where goods meet the relevant rules of origin) and continued market access for UK and EU road haulage operators.
In February, the government announced a new traineeship programme specifically for the construction industry. The programme which will last between 6 weeks and 12 months will focus on developing vital employability skills combined with a work placement lasting a minimum of 70 hours.
Research from Search Consultancy in March of this year found that 68% of construction industry managers believe that their sector struggles with a lack of gender diversity. However, the industry does see the value in having a diverse team, with 66% of managers stating a more diverse workforce would help resolve the skills shortage in the construction industry.
Changes to permitted development legislation were announced in April, in order to help support the UK housing market and high street by giving developers much more choice and freedom when creating new homes. Under the new regulations unused commercial property in England can be redeveloped as long as the premises has been vacant for a minimum of 3 months, be a maximum of 1,500 sqm and have been in commercial business and service use for at least two years prior to being vacant.
Throughout 2021 the industry has been plagued by shortages of materials and skills, and output levels have fallen as a result, affecting small builders’ ability to recover from the pandemic.
A new campaign ‘Help Inside the Hard Hat’ launched to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week by The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity. The campaign aims to get the construction sector talking and tackle the perception that construction workers are ‘hard’ on the outside.
The government reinforced their commitments to protect the environment for future generations by strengthening the landmark Environment Bill. Amendments to the bill included strengthening the duty to set a legally binding target to halt species decline by 2030 and introduce statutory guidance for local planning authorities to explain how they should consider new local nature recovery strategies.
There were mixed reactions to chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Autumn budget, there were fears that the levy on developers with a profit of more than £25m to help play for cladding could leads to developers carefully reassessing how they structure themselves in order to offset some of the tax. Many in the industry also felt more help was needed for energy costs and further financial details on net-zero strategies.
However, the announcements of a 12-month relief on business-rate hikes arising from premises investment, the cancellation of the planned increase to the business-rates multiplier, and the extension of the uplift to the Annual Investment Allowance were all met with support from the industry.
“While it hasn’t been smooth sailing for the development industry, I am delighted to see some positive actions being taken with regards to addressing labour shortages, green initiatives and mental health campaigns which is why I feel the development industry deserves its place on Father Christmas’s nice list this year!”
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