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'Low-skilled' workers do not equal low value

Richard Beresford

It’s been a busy few weeks in politics with the party conference season, and the government has been keen to demonstrate that it is working to build a better future for Britain.

I was overjoyed, along with the rest of the industry, to see the prime minister showing her commitment to fixing the housing crisis by announcing that the government will lift the borrowing cap on councils to allow them to build more homes.

The House Builders Association, a division of the National Federation of Builders, has highlighted the cap on local authority borrowing for new housebuilding in all of its past manifestos.

It has been the conduit to bringing that message to national and local government by lobbying tirelessly with the support of everyone in the supply chain.

So why then has it taken so long for the government to address the root cause of the housing crisis?

It is SME builders that are integral to building the homes people want in the places people want them. Lifting councils’ housebuilding cap would, in a perfect world, help deliver the government’s target of delivering 300,000 homes a year.

Immigration handbrake

But will these targets really be met? When you look at the big picture, there’s a possibility that post-Brexit immigration rules will hamper this.

“The government needs to understand the crucial role that European workers play as part of the industry”

The government has failed to fully acknowledge the skills base of those who work in the construction industry. This was evident in the new skills-based system announced last week, which will cripple the industry by creating an additional barrier to building.

One of our members, Golden Houses owner Monika Slowikowska, has said her company’s future is at stake, as 90 per cent of her workers are eastern European. Without her staff maintaining a right to work in the UK, her company will fold.

The government needs to understand the crucial role that European workers play as part of the industry. 

These so-called low-skilled workers will be absolutely vital to hitting that 300,000 homes-a-year target. Low-skilled does not mean low value. 

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