Ukip leader Nigel Farage talks to Construction News ahead of next week’s election on where Ukip stands on skills, infrastructure and housing.
Which three Ukip policies would most benefit the construction industry - and why are these important?
Ukip wants to see a brownfield revolution. We are proposing to give developers grants of up to £10,000 per unit to carry out essential remediation.
We will ensure properties built on registered brownfield sites will be exempt from stamp duty on first sale, up to the £250,000 threshold.
“The Ukip perspective is that we would welcome skilled workers when and if there is a shortage in any sector”
We will give developers a grant to cover the indemnity insurance of decontaminated land.
Local authorities will be allowed to keep the New Homes Bonus beyond six years on brownfield sites, and we will identify long-term dormant public land so it can be released for affordable developments.
Concerns are growing in the industry that exiting the EU would lead to a further shortage of skilled workers in the UK. Are these concerns legitimate?
The Ukip perspective is that we would welcome skilled workers when and if there is a shortage in any sector. That is exactly what our Australian-style points-based system is all about.
How do you see construction being affected by leaving the EU and how would you look to counter any negative impacts?
We believe that in leaving the EU, and freeing the country to set up trading deals with the world, the economy will be given a boost, and this in turn will lead to a positive situation in construction.
“HS2 is a massive vanity project designed to shore up electoral support among a handful of West Midlands constituencies”
Our policies on employment and taxation were rated so well by the CEBR think tank that it described the dynamic economic effects of the policies as adding an extra 0.2 per cent onto our GDP.
You’ve been critical of HS2, calling it a “waste of money”. Can you explain why you are opposed to the scheme?
Let me count the ways: it is a massive vanity project designed not to get the country moving but to shore up electoral support among a handful of West Midlands marginal constituencies.
To spend so much on a project that all financial projections seem to mark down, when that money could be spent on improvements across the network, seems to be deeply wasteful.
How do you feel this £50bn could be better spent to improve the UK’s rail network or other infrastructure?
The biggest problem with the railways is the short commuter trains rather than intercity.
“If anything the open-door migration policy to the former Soviet bloc countries has been a massive boon for the industry”
It is those that need upgrades, alongside improvements to the London-Penzance route. It was quicker to travel from Penzance to London on the train in 1914 than it is today - just consider that.
Do you think the coalition has failed the industry and if so what in particular do you think it could have done differently?
If anything the open-door migration policy to the former Soviet bloc countries has been a massive boon for the industry.
It has kept wages down and has increased profitability.
“When I see a white van I feel a sense of vicarious achievement”
But it has had a hugely depressing impact upon wages and security for British workers.
It has also caused problems in proper training, as it is cheaper to employ experienced migrants than to provide proper apprenticeships - on-the-job apprenticeships for local youngsters.
After the saga of Labour and the white van, what do you think of when you see a white van?
When I see a white van I feel a sense of vicarious achievement. They are the chariot of the entrepreneur and the driven.
If money was no object, what would be your dream project in the UK?
Rebuild Nonsuch House [a four-storey prefabricated building on London Bridge, built in the Netherlands in 1579, shipped to and reassembled in the capital, and torn down in the 18th century].
There has been plenty of criticism around London’s ever-changing skyline. What do you think of the capital’s iconic buildings such as the Shard, Heron Tower or the Gherkin?
London’s skyline has been changing ever since Boadicea tried a new form of town planning. In the end only good buildings survive, as fashions change and land value reasserts its power.
Do you have a favourite and a least favourite UK building?
The Church of St Thomas à Becket at Fairfield, on the Romney Marshes. Least favourite: the Elephant, Coventry - ghastly.
The devolution debate has featured in the headlines in recent months. What would Ukip do for the regions?
Ours is a national rather than regional policy. But there are locally specific things across the nations and regions, such as dropping the tolls on the Severn Bridge.