“Continued growth throughout the industry means it’s more positive news for the month of May”
- London office construction soars to 20 year high
- House builders sign Government pledge to raise output
- Blacklisted workers set for £10m legal payout
- Plans go in for £75m Wembley office to resi conversion
- Electrical Industry Charity Marathon runners are a huge success
- 3 in 4 firms are actively managing occupational health
- Trustmark drums the importance of home safety
- Student’s guide to IET wiring regulations takes to the road
- EUA calls on new London Mayor to make energy efficiency a priority
- New campaign launched to get women on the tools
- Hydrogen gas could be in UK homes within 10 years
- Boiler sales increase is positive news for the industry says HHIC
London office construction soars to 20 year high
The number of offices under construction in central London has rocketed to a 20-year high, according to the latest six-monthly Crane Survey report.
The welcome boom in office construction will help to replace some major residential tower schemes in London, which are being revised amid concern about prospects for the prime residential market.
According to the latest Deloitte Real Estate’s London Office Crane Survey 51 new buildings were started over the past six months, the highest number of new starts since records began.
Demolition levels continue to rise as developers press on with new schemes, promising a sustained rise in activity peaking in 2018.
Contractors have enjoyed a rapid surge in work. In just 18 months space under construction in the Capital has nearly doubled, from 7.7m sq ft to 14.2m sq ft.
The pace of development is fast, with 38% of the space currently under construction scheduled to complete over the next twelve months. This is partly down to an increase in refurbishment projects, which now account for just under half of the volume of new starts, and are typically quicker to complete than new-build.
Deloitte predicts that schemes currently under construction, and those yet to start, will deliver 38m sq ft over the next five years.
Chris Lewis, head of occupier advisory at Deloitte Real Estate, said: “Currently, there is little sign that the referendum is influencing future construction.
“Demolition activity, a reasonably reliable indicator of future new starts, has risen by more than 10% over the past six months – even as a record number of schemes have moved from demolition to construction.
But he warned that UK-based firms were carefully considering the potential impact of a referendum, and recent readings have indicated a reduced willingness to expand and hire.
“New construction starts on speculative schemes are likely to slow if the UK’s EU referendum produces a vote to leave,” he warned.
“Aside from any longer-term implications of a leave vote, there would be the initial uncertainty over the strength of occupier demand that tends to arise from significant economic and political events. In the past, this has been followed by a slowdown in central London office construction.”
House builders sign Government pledge to raise output
Britain’s major house builders have committed to raise the number of new homes they build after months of talks with Government.
A statement issued today by the Home Builders Federation commits firms to raising output in 2019 to more than double the homes built in 2010.
The commitment comes as concern grows in Whitehall that the Government will miss its target of building 1m homes in this parliament.
Volume house builders claim to have doubled build rates on large sites to help deliver 30% growth in supply in just two years.
They now also plan to develop a ‘land exchange’ aimed at allowing larger builders to sell sites or parts of sites to smaller builders. They have also agreed to provide local councils and central Government with actual and projected build out rates of current and future sites.
A statement issued this morning on behalf of volume builders said: “HBF and its members recognise that delivering 1m homes requires significant further action from the house building sector and that there needs to be a substantial increase in the number of homes they deliver.
“Accordingly, HBF’s largest members have an ambition to match their current rates of growth and in 2019 build more than double the number of homes they built in 2010.”
House builders and Government will continue talks in the coming months to identify further ways of increasing delivery from existing sites and bringing forward more sites, particularly for smaller builders.
In particular HBF is keen to explore how blockages in the planning process, and with utilities providers, can be addressed to get builders starting on site more quickly.
Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman of the HBF, said: “Over the past two years the industry has responded to the positive policies introduced by Government and has delivered huge increases in output.
“All indicators clearly show the significant progress being made and last year we delivered more than 180,000 new homes in England.”
He added: “Moving forward the industry is committed to going further, and provided that the political, economic and policy conditions are conducive, to deliver further increases in supply.
“House builders are investing in their supply chains and have taken on tens of thousands of new workers to ensure there is the capacity and skills to deliver more high quality homes.
“Working with Government, and others, we want to ensure that the investment environment remains attractive and that the right measures are in place to support the delivery of the homes the country needs.”
Brandon Lewis, the Housing and Planning Minister, said: “This statement of intent shows house builders are committed to continuing the growth in supply we have seen under our administration – building more of the homes that this country needs.
“We have already seen a strong upwards growth in new homes delivered since 2010 and I welcome developers’ plans to share with councils how quickly they will get homes built on sites.”
Blacklisted workers set for £10m legal payout
Hundreds of workers win a five-year case over secret blacklisting that saw some of them forced to move abroad.
More than 250 construction workers who were denied jobs over trade union involvement are set to receive more than £10m in compensation after winning a High Court battle.
Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty Engineering Services and 42 other firms were using a database to vet new recruits in order to exclude trade union and health and safety activists.
Some 256 victims under the Unite union are set to receive £25,000 to £200,000 each, depending on factors including loss of income and the seriousness of the defamation.
The total compensation for all 771 claimants is estimated at around £75m – including costs, according to the GMB, which settled its case last month.
Workers represented by the Ucatt union were also involved in the case, which has now been settled in the High Court.
The scandal followed the Information Commissioner raiding the Consulting Association in 2009 and seizing the database containing 3,213 records.
Some on the database said they had to move abroad because they were denied work.
The Unite case centred on a number of key legal issues, including defamation, breaches of the 1988 Data Protection Act, conspiracy and misuse of private information.
Legal costs on both sides are estimated at £25m.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The sums to be paid out go a considerable way to acknowledge the hurt, suffering and loss of income our members and their families have been through over many years.
“Under the agreement they can once more apply for jobs in the construction industry without fear of discrimination.
“The message is clear that there can never be any hiding place for bosses in the construction and any other industry thinking of reverting to shameful blacklisting practices against committed trade unionists.”
Unite director of legal services Howard Beckett said the companies had agreed to give guidance to site managers “to ensure blacklisting is not occurring on a local level and to ensure that Unite members receive no less favourable treatment for job applications”.
In a statement, the construction companies said they accepted the system was “unlawful in various respects” and said the unions had all now accepted their public apology.
The companies added that they “continue to work together with the trade unions at national, regional and site level to ensure that the modern UK construction industry provides the highest standards of employment and HR practice for its workforce”.
Plans go in for £75m Wembley office to resi conversion
Plans to transform Amex House in Wembley have been submitted to Brent Council.
Developer Anthology wants to convert the 1.6 acre site into 195 homes.
Amex House was formerly home of civil engineering contractor Durkin & Sons.
Anthology is hoping to receive planning approval this summer before construction work starts in the Autumn.
A contractor is due to be appointed shortly.
Adam Gaymer, Executive Director of Anthology, said: “We are delighted to have submitted our proposal for this site.
“We believe Wembley is one of the most promising regeneration areas in London and we are hugely excited to have a hand in its continued development.
“Amex House which will be known as ‘Anthology Wembley Parade’ forms part of our growing London portfolio and reflects our policy of investing in prime regeneration sites.
“We look forward to enhancing communities and unlocking the potential of other sites around London in the near future.”
Electrical Industry Charity Marathon runners are a huge success
The Virgin Money London Marathon proved to be a great success for the Electrical Industries Charity with charity runners raising more than £11,000.
The London Marathon – one of the biggest charity fundraising events in the UK – saw the Electrical Industries Charity with nine runners completing the gruelling 26-mile course.
The nine Charity’s runners who took part in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon were:
- Joe Ellis from Edmundson Electrical.
- Alun Evans from Phase Electrical.
- Philip Woolley from Electrical Review.
- Scott Wildego from R&B Star.
- Zak Benney and Guy Powney from Edmundson Electrical’s Western Office.
- Daniel Mullinder, Paul Murphy, Mark Weston from Edmundson Electrical Carlisle.
- Juan Subira from Schneider Electric.
Managing Director, Tessa Ogle said, “I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the Virgin Money London Marathon on behalf of the Electrical Industries Charity. Their efforts have inspired so many people in our industry to take part in next year’s The Virgin Money London Marathon as well as raising such a great amount, which will help us to continue to provide support to people in our industry who need help the most.
“We have already had enquiries about places for the 2017 event and I can confirm that we will once again be offering Gold Bond places to those who would like to take part and raise funds for the Electrical Industries Charity. But it is worth remembering that if you do get a ballot place for 2017 you can still raise funds for the charity and help us to support those in our industry when they need it most.”
3 in 4 firms are actively managing occupational health
Building services engineers rising to occupational health challenge.
Almost three quarters (72 per cent) of building services firms say they actively manage occupational health, according to a new survey from the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), the BESA and Constructing Better Health.
Of those that said they managed occupational health (OH), some 82 per cent cited a ‘moral duty’ as a key reason for doing so, while over half (51 per cent) said it also helped to show the sector was ‘a great place to work.’ Many respondents also said that managing OH led to a more productive workforce, with better staff retention (77 per cent), and less absenteeism (84 per cent).
The main on-site occupational health hazards identified by respondents were manual handling (96 per cent), noise (94 per cent), and asbestos (93 per cent).
According to ECA director of business Paul Reeve: ’The findings of this survey will help us and our stakeholders to understand much more clearly what the real occupational health issues are in our sector. The sector already has an exceptionally good safety record and this data should help the sector to further increase cost-effective occupational health provision.
‘The response to this survey has yielded some very useful data but we are also mindful that, generally speaking, those who responded may already be ‘switched on’ and there is much more to do across the sector.’
Noting there are widely differing definitions of ‘occupational health management,’ the survey also offered a suggested ‘working definition’ with which nearly 8 in 10 firms ‘agreed entirely’, and just 3 per cent of respondents disagreed.
Further survey findings will be released shortly. The findings come as the entire industry met last week in London to discuss what next steps can be taken to tackle ill-health and disease in construction.
Trustmark drums the importance of home safety
As part of an ongoing drive to support the development of home safety in the UK, TrustMark, the Government-endorsed scheme for tradespeople, has partnered with CFOA Blue Watch, the Chief Fire Officers home safety scheme, to promote the assessment and registration of safety features found in both private and rented homes.
Supported by UK Fire and Rescue services, Blue Watch provides help and support to households, including landlords, letting agents, tenants and homeowners, to make their properties safer from hazards posed by electricity and gas, fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, for example. The Blue Watch logo is the sign of a safer home – it says a trusted fire safety professional has validated a property or safety product.
TrustMark and Blue Watch aim to reduce the devastation and cost of fires and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in UK homes, by helping homeowners and landlords to provide safer places to live for their families and tenants. Together the two schemes will raise awareness of these dangers and risks by advising and signposting households to use TrustMark-registered firms to carry out work in and around their properties.
Simon Ayers, chief executive of TrustMark, said: ‘Home safety is a priority issue and should always be addressed before any home is occupied – people like to feel safe in their home, not only for themselves, but particularly for their families. Our partnership with Blue Watch will enable us to drive home the critically important message to only use skilled, reliable and competent tradespeople who have been assessed and qualified when it comes to carrying out any work on a property. TrustMark-registered firms can not only fix and fit approved safety products in the home, but they can also provide advice and support to raise awareness of the dangers and risks of fire and CO poisoning. Together with Blue Watch we can make homes and properties in the UK safer.’
All TrustMark firms’ work to Government-endorsed standards and are uniquely checked for three cornerstones of quality – their trading practices, customer service and their technical skills. TrustMark continues to expand its database of over 13,000 individual firms in the UK, providing national coverage with more than 21,000 licenced trades searchable on its database.
For further information visit www.trustmark.org.uk
For further information about Blue Watch, visit www.bluewatch.co.uk
Student’s guide to IET wiring regulations takes to the road
The IET has launched its Student’s Guide to the IET Wiring Regulations, aimed at students and electrical apprentices.
The publication provides essential guidance for learners working towards the successful completion of courses and gaining qualifications in line with the standards set by the awarding bodies.
Author of the Student’s Guide, Steven Devine, hosts a series of ‘How to’ guides on IET.tv to support the publication, and recently ran a successful roadshow at Cambridge Regional College.
Devine, who described the event in a recent blog, said the day had many students engaging in conversation and asking questions relating to the requirements of BS:7671 (the Wiring Regulations) and the IET in general.
He said, “It was a fantastic opportunity to introduce young budding electricians to the Student’s Guide to the IET Wiring Regulations and other resources that we are working on, such as our Student’s Guide video series. Simon Brown from BASEC joined the Roadshow to explain why it is important to use certified cables and some of the risks associated with using sub-standard cables.
“This was the first of the IET’s Student’s Guide Roadshows that will be touring the UK. We hope to make these events as fun and interactive as possible, and we will be bringing with us representatives from various parts of the industry to engage with students.”
For further information about the book and to watch our videos, visit the Student’s Hub. Here, you can also order a copy of the Student’s Guide to the IET Wiring Regulations. Please note that charges and member discounts apply.
A video from the Student’s Guide roadshow is available on IET.tv.
EUA calls on new London Mayor to make energy efficiency a priority
Following his election to London Mayor on 5 May, the Energy & Utilities Alliance (EUA) is asking Sadiq Khan Make to put energy efficiency at the heart of his policy for London.
“An effective energy efficiency policy will have diverse and far-reaching positive outcomes for many Londoners; from helping to tackle fuel poverty through to helping to improve air quality,” said Isaac Occhipinti, head of external affairs at EUA.
The EUA is calling on the Mayor to:
- Extend the boiler scrappage scheme to include all non-condensing boilers, as currently financial incentives are available to replace G rated boilers. Carbon emissions and household energy bills can be reduced by switching to an efficient boiler.
- Implement a robust and all-encompassing domestic energy efficiency scheme to reduce energy bills and help improve the health and wellbeing for London residents. A whole house approach to energy efficiency is needed to help reduce carbon emissions in the capital.
- Incentivise commercial natural gas vehicles, which have lower emissions and lower operating costs than their diesel equivalents. Currently HGVs contribute nearly 75% of NOx emissions in local geographic areas, where the UK is exceeding annual targets.Natural gas as an alternative to diesel, in buses, LGVs and HGVs, will improve air quality by reducing NOx, CO2, and noise emissions, at no additional cost, and they can use the existing high-quality gas pipeline infrastructure.
New campaign launched to get women on the tools
A new national campaign has been launched to encourage more women to take up careers in manual trades, such as plumbing and construction.
‘Women on the Tools’ is aiming to increase the number of women embarking on careers in trade roles. Currently, around 1% of the 1.5 million people working in the construction-related industries are women, and only 2% are employed in manual trades.
The campaign aims to dramatically increase this number to ensure women make up 50% of all those working in manual trades. ‘Women on the Tools’ will be engaging with schools, colleges and employers to raise awareness of the range of good quality manual careers across sectors, which also include the automotive and horticulture industries.
The campaign has been devised by charity organisation, Women and Manual Trades, and has been launched to mark the 40th anniversary of the organisation. The charity works to provide information and guidance to women and employers running mentoring programmes.
It is also introducing a new project-based consultancy service, Women on the Tools Consulting, to help employers in the construction, building trades and maintenance sectors attract more tradeswomen.
The service will design and deliver bespoke consultancy packages for organisations wanting to increase engagement with women. ‘Women on the Tools’ has already attracted support from industry including Charlie Mullins. The Pimlico Plumbers’ founder has also become a patron of the charity.
Charlie Mullins says: “The manual trades offer some fantastic career opportunities with good earning potential, but unfortunately there’s a perception that these jobs are not for women. A Pimlico plumber can earn anything up to £100,000 a year, which is more than respectable and girls should be encouraged to look at practical and fulfilling careers on the tools.
“We’re always on the lookout for women tradespeople, but there just aren’t the numbers we want. In my experience the women we have employed on the tools have been as talented and as committed as their male counterparts. Schools, colleges, parents and employers need to show a united front that there really is an even playing field and the door is open for more women to become tradespeople.”
Andrea Kelmanson, Chief Executive of Women in Manual Trades, adds: “It’s disappointing that fewer than 2% of tradespeople on the tools are women, because they can have a real impact on businesses. There is a major shortage of skilled workers in the Construction, Building Trades and Maintenance sectors, but no one thinks about inviting women in, despite the fact that in the domestic market, many customers prefer tradeswomen in their homes.
“Women on the Tools will change the cultural perception of careers in the trades and needs schools and colleges to support the campaign to attract more young women onto trade-related training courses that will create a larger group of candidates for employers.”
Among the 2% of women in manual trades is 19-year-old Chloe Sayer from Reading who is a plumbing apprentice with Pimlico Plumbers in Central London. When she left school her first priority when choosing a career was to find an industry where she would never be out of work.
Chloe says: “I wanted a stable job, and plumbing certainly is that. The fact that I was learning trade, which is totally transferrable that could take me anywhere in the world was also a massive appeal. I was lucky that had a few personal connections who could point me in the right direction of how to go about entering the industry, and the advice I received in school wasn’t all that helpful.
“There was very much an attitude that manual trades were for boys, and professions like nursing were aimed at girls. I’d say to any woman looking to get into a trade that they should go for it – do what you want to do and don’t listen to any negativity. The reaction that I’ve had from family, friends and most importantly the customers I meet has been incredibly positive, and I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve bucked the trend and secured a great job and great career.”
Hydrogen gas could be in UK homes within 10 years
Gas distributor Northern Gas Networks has revealed plans to convert the gas network serving the city of Leeds from natural gas to ‘green’ hydrogen gas within the next 10 to 15 years.
Hydrogen gas could be used to provide heating in UK homes if plans to convert the gas network in the Leeds area prove successful. Northern Gas Networks (NGN), which is responsible for distributing gas across northern England, has received funding from energy regulator Ofgem to develop the idea. It is hoped that Leeds could be fully converted by 2025-2030 and that the model could then be replicated in other parts of the country.
Hydrogen is more environmentally-friendly than natural gas because it produces only water and heat when burnt. NGN says that it is working to build a series of plants around the city that would take methane from the national gas grid and convert it into hydrogen by removing the carbon. The carbon would then be disposed of using carbon capture and storage technology.
A new supply network would need to be constructed because the UK’s high-pressure gas distribution pipes are made of steel, which is thought to be unsuitable to transport hydrogen. However, this isn’t considered a major obstacle because old metal pipes are already being replaced by polyethylene and such an overhaul has happened before when the network was converted from town gas following the discovery of North Sea reserves.
Switching to hydrogen would require changes to heating and cooking appliances as well as the gas network, mainly because the combustion velocity is higher for hydrogen than for natural gas. Hydrogen ignites more quickly, so modifications to spark ignition and burner heads would be needed.
A key driver of the project is the Climate Change Act which requires the Government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by 80%, relative to 1990 levels. Many argue that the use of ‘green’ gas is a relatively cost-effective way to achieve this target.
Speaking after a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Energy Studies, Mike Foster, CEO of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, said: “The group were fascinated by the very real potential offered by hydrogen. We all know that decarbonising heat is tricky, but necessary if we are to meet our climate change obligations, and gas has a critical role to play in the process. The gas grid currently delivers gas into the homes of over 84% of the UK population and there is little appetite to simply abandon gas and start again with a new system, not to mention the costs involved.”
Boiler sales increase is positive news for the industry says HHIC
Figures released by HHIC show that the number of gas boilers sold in the UK, in the first quarter of 2016, grew by 1.9%. Boiler sales increased for this period from 427,533 in 2015 to 435,612 in 2016.
“The increase may only be small, but it is positive news for the industry,” said Stewart Clements, director at the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council, HHIC. “Sales in January and February were very similar to 2015. The rise occurred in March, and whilst the fundamental drivers which impact on boiler sales have remained stable, the data available to date for ECO suggests that volumes have begun to pick up and so may help explain the increase.”