Mike Beard, Merchant Development Director Encon Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Insulation Products – Distribution.
The last quarter has been frustrating for everyone as the Westminster paralysis has taken its toll on business and consumer confidence, and delayed investment has held back the market.
If the general election resolves the paralysis the country can move on, however the election has had one potentially positive result already. Just as persistent problems of availability and rising prices eventually moved housing from the front pages to a priority for any UK government, energy efficiency and the poor state of our housing stock is also becoming a priority.
Take it with a pinch of salt or not, Labour’s hugely ambitious promise to invest billions to cut carbon emissions by 10% with ‘Warm Homes for All’ is the largest home improvement programme in decades. The scheme aims to spend £60bn to encourage a total investment of £250bn by offering every UK household the chance of “upgrading the fabric of (their) home with insulation and cutting-edge heating systems”. We have learned to be cynical of election promises and over complicated schemes like the Green Deal, but insulation is now firmly at the heart of Britain’s future. Other parties must surely come up with their own schemes to tackle what is recognised as a serious problem: Britain’s housing stock is the least energy efficient in Europe.
Assuming the election does break the parliamentary stand-off, construction will be released to grow again, which will have a positive impact on the building materials sector. That will then shift the focus on to the supply of materials – for example the capacity to meet the growing demand for plasterboard is limited – and on to labour where there are skills shortages at many stages of the construction process.
One area that really does need more focus is achieving new build designs that aim to eradicate heat loss right from the beginning. Ensuring compliance to increased design standards to achieve this would also need the correct checks for public and industry reassurance.