John Sinfield, Managing Director Knauf Insulation is BMBI’s Expert for Mineral Wool Insulation.
In the first quarter BMBI report I referred to a ‘Brexit hangover’ in a number of merchants’ public statements. I thought the entire industry would breathe a sigh of relief after the referendum irrespective of the result, but since then there’s been a period of prolonged uncertainty as we all try to untangle what it means for the country and for our businesses.
Added to that, with any change of Government you have a hiatus while they sort themselves out and then think about what they want to do. Prime Minister Theresa May has made statements about targeting the ‘working poor’, suggesting energy efficiency will be a significant part of that goal. That might just be a plan to replace the Green Deal, or create something around infrastructure investment. One plus is that the Government has already made a public statement about pushing landlords to improve the energy performance of homes with EPC ratings ‘F’ or ‘G’, the two lowest grades of energy efficiency, from 2018.
Another significant change for the insulation industry is the absorbing of the Department of Energy and Climate Change into the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Initial efforts to interpret the motives for the merger were contradictory. Some suggested a significant downgrading of priorities for both energy strategy and action on climate change. But I hope it suggests that ‘energy’ will now sit in a more powerful Department with climate change becoming a key issue across Government departments.
Despite some of the scaremongering in certain corners of the press, insulation sales to merchants were positive throughout Quarter 2, and positive compared to the same period in previous years. I hope that trend continues but remain cautious until I see the longer term plans of the new Government, and what they mean for construction as a whole.