Industry Insights – March 2022

By Jen Heil | March 31, 2022

Welcome to the March 2022 edition of SG’s Industry Insights. We’ve got a slightly different format for you this month with bitesize news pieces to capture key goings on in the industry.  

The Spring Statement and what it means for construction 

On 23rd March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak shared the Spring 2022 Statement which, although noticeably light on policy directly impacting the construction industry, nevertheless held some points of interest. Most notable is the introduction of 0% VAT on solar panels and energy saving materials, such as insulation and heat pumps. Meeting Net Zero in construction is demand-led and the removal of VAT on these materials is likely to cause a significant increase in demand. This, in turn, heightens the need for skills in low-carbon technologies, hopefully creating the confidence that the industry needs to invest in retrofit training.  

With the skills gap an already cumbersome issue for the industry, it is to be hoped that the government will prioritise investment in this area going forward. Whilst the Spring Statement promised a review of the current apprenticeship levy scheme, this alone will not be enough to provide the necessary number of new construction professionals. 

Read more construction analysis of the Statement from the CIOB. 

 

Changing COVID-19 rules and staying safe on site 

The Government has confirmed that it will be updating its COVID‐19 guidance from 1st April 2022, which will advise anyone who tests positive to ‘try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days’. The Working Safely during Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and the health and safety requirement for employers to explicitly consider COVID‐19 in their risk assessments are also due to be withdrawn from 1st April. The Government will be publishing ‘principles that employers can follow to help them decide how to reduce risks in the workplace’ as part of the Living With COVID-19 Plan. 

It will still be essential, however, for employers and site managers to work diligently to reduce the risk of spread amongst their teams. To aid this, the CLC’s Site Operating Procedures and the Use of Face Coverings in Construction documents will remain available for reference.  

 

Red diesel rebate comes to an end 

Despite calls from contractors for a 12 month delay, from 1st April, the entitlement to use rebated red diesel will be removed from most sectors, including construction. This means it will be illegal to put red diesel into the tank of a vehicle or machine being used for construction work. If traces of red diesel are found in such a vehicle or machine, evidence will be required to demonstrate that it was put in before the rules changed and is still being used up. HMRC has stated it will take a pragmatic approach to enforcement, however the vehicle or machine can be seized and a fine of £250 may be issued. 

For more details on the new rules, have a read of Build UK’s Red Diesel FAQs. 

 

Inflation concerns see quotes being held for as little as 24 hours 

Increasing concerns over price rises are leading to some construction material suppliers only holding tender price quotes for 24 hours, according to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC). Supply chain issues are being further compounded by soaring energy costs, which are impacting markets across Europe. Products including bricks, aircrete blocks, gas boilers, polymer-based products and electrical products using semi-conductors seem to be those most heavily impacted. The CLC and Builder’s Merchants Federation have urged contractors to plan ahead, in anticipation of market accelerations in the spring.  

Lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine are also expected to contribute to supply and price issues for paints and coatings, as well as ceramic tiles and sanitaryware in the coming months. The product availability working group is to meet every three weeks to respond to changing conditions arising from price inflation and the war in Ukraine. 

Find out more in the CLC’s latest product availability statement. 

Local spotlight: St Ann’s Hospice Redevelopment 

St Ann’s Hospice in Heald Green, Greater Manchester, has been serving the community with outstanding end-of-life care for over half a century. Whilst the care is unrivaled, the current hospice building is no longer suited to the demands of modern health care. A new facility is desperately needed, and without it the hospice would have to face closing its doors in the near future.  

St Ann’s has an incredible vision for their new hospice, brought to life in the designs and plans by PRP Architects, and the wheels are in motion to turn these plans into reality. But they still need help to get there.  

St Ann’s New Hospice is an ambitious £20million project. The state-of-the-art facility is essential for continuing to provide care into the future, and ensuring that the palliative and end-of-life care needs of patients in Greater Manchester can be met. With the plans in place, St Ann’s Hospice now needs to raise further funds to ensure that this vision becomes the reality for the community.  As well as community fundraising, there are plenty of opportunities for corporate support, with plans for large gifts to be recognised with room sponsorships and lasting mementos designed into the build. 

Find out more about how you can support this vital project. 

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