A Greener Future for the UK Construction Industry?
We have a General Election on the way here in the UK – this is an exciting opportunity for the construction industry as a whole to push for some of the changes needed to help the sector get back on its feet following the lean years which came about as a result of the economic crisis. Last week we wrote about the Construction Industry Council’s (CIC’s) key recommendations for the incoming government. We’re keeping a close eye on political developments here at Safety Fabrications and we’ll be looking at how the general election results will affect the industry in the coming years.
There’s news this week that a surprising alliance between the construction industry and the Green Party on the issue of taxation. The Green Party has adopted a policy of cutting VAT on housing repairs and renovations, a move that will be welcomed by the construction industry which has been advocating just such a move for several years.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is leading a coalition of construction industry players in calling for the VAT rate on repairs and renovations to be decreased to just 5% (VAT is currently charged at 20%) which is the lowest level possible under European ruling.
The Green Party reckons that dropping VAT to 5% would serve to encourage home owners to think about the refurbishments necessary in order to make their homes more energy efficient. Not only would this help the UK towards meeting the targets of the Kyoto agreement, it would also stimulate economic activity in the UK.
It used to be that voting for the Green Party was a bit of a wasted vote – a protest vote, if you like as they were always so unlikely to win an election that voters often voted Green if they had lost faith in their usual party of choice. However, all that has changed in recent years, and not just because we’ve come to take a more adult view of the dangers of climate change and the need to protect our environment. The Green Party of today actually enjoys a larger membership base than either the Lib Dems or UKIP and Green candidates will be standing in more than 90% of seats in the UK.
Tom Chance, the housing spokesperson for the Green Party, says that a VAT cut could be a real boost for both green jobs and warmer homes (which would be great in our bleak UK winters). The Green Party admits that there is a desperate need for nationwide investment in home insulation which would reduce power bills and go a long way towards eradicating fuel poverty, a modern scandal here in the UK. The proposed reduction in VAT is just one of a number of bold policies being set forth by the Green Party, but this one could have a direct effect on all of us in the construction industry. The Green Party describes itself as having a “commitment to building a Britain of warm, comfortable homes”.