Pressure mounts to make construction Brexit priority

Hamish Champ

Building a Better Brexit campaign urges readers to write to constituency candidates to highlight role of industry

Building readers are being urged to write to election candidates in their consituencies to highlight the role construction will play in a post-Brexit economy, as part of this publication’s Better Brexit campaign.

The construction sector is likely to be significantly affected by the impact of negotiations around the issues of immigration and trade. A model letter, which can be downloaded from the Related Files section to the right of this article, calls on candidates to consider a number of action points, including re-classifying the industry as a high priority in Brexit talks, and ensuring tariff-free and barrier-free access for future workers, exports and imports.

Meanwhile, a Building online poll of readers’ views on the election contenders put the Conservatives ahead, both in terms of who would be best for the construction sector and who would win readers’ votes on 8 June.

The poll, which closed on Tuesday, revealed 57% of respondents believed a Tory government would be better for the sector, while 50% of those taking part said they planned to back the Conservatives on 8 June, versus 36% saying they would vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. More said they would vote for the Liberal Democrats (9%) than agreed the party would be good for the industry (4%).

Meanwhile, the prime minster stole some of Labour’s thunder this week when she said she would put building council homes at the heart of her party’s strategy in power. In an interview with the Sunday Times, Theresa May said she would change the law to help councils and housing associations build low-cost homes, to help “fix the broken housing market”.

The policy would be allied with the right to buy scheme, allowing tenants to buy their homes after 10 to 15 years.

May’s stance marks a dramatic shift from her predecessor, David Cameron, whose policies were designed to increase housing supply indirectly by boosting demand and encouraging private housebuilders to build more.

Under May’s plans, the next Tory government will help councils borrow more and ease the laws governing compulsory purchase orders. The Tories’ full plans were due to be unveiled in the party’s manifesto on Thursday as Building went to press.

Labour, which has its own pledge to build thousands more council homes every year, hit back, with the party’s shadow housing secretary John Healey dismissing the Conservatives’ proposals as “political spin with no substance”.

For its part, Labour’s manifesto revealed the party’s ambition to build more than 100,000 council and housing association homes a year, as well as the creation of a new housing ministry.

Published on Tuesday, the manifesto confirmed its aim to be build a million new homes over five years, and back Help To Buy funding until 2027 “to give long-term certainty to both first-time buyers and the housebuilding industry”.

A Labour government would scrap restrictions that stopped councils from building homes. Instead it would begin what the document called “the biggest council building programme for at least 30 years”, ditching the Conservatives’ ban on long-term council tenancies “to give council tenants security in their home”.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats promised to become a “housebuilder in government”, constructing 300,000 homes for sale and rent by the end of the next parliament. Party leader Tim Farron said a Liberal Democrat administration would also penalise developers for land-banking and allow local authorities to hike up council tax on empty or un-built homes.

Online poll results

Building’s online polls this week show the Conservatives in the lead when readers were asked about both voting intention and which party is best for construction.

Contact your candidate

You can download this model letter to your constituency candidates by clicking here.

The letter summarises construction’s importance to the UK economy and calls on election candidates to consider the key demands in the Building a Better Brexit manifesto.

A list of the candidates is available from the official political parties’ websites, along with contact details. Feel free to add local examples of important construction projects or related issues – we would also be interested to hear about these local stories, so please email us

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