The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has welcomed several elements of the legislative programme that was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 27 May, 2015.
While the BMF welcomed the Housing Bill announcements, it warned that the government must ensure this Bill does not unintentionally restrict through undue levels of bureaucracy and red tape.
John Newcomb, managing director of the BMF, said: “The government must now ensure that future funding provision for apprenticeships in the building sector is sufficiently attractive to encourage employers to invest in their business and provide high-quality apprenticeships in the building materials’ supply chain to ensure the 200,000 new starter homes can be delivered.”
Within the Employment Bill, the BMF was pleased to hear the new government re-affirm its continued support for apprenticeships. The Federation has long been committed to vocational training and skills as demonstrated by a continuous career development programme that includes a Diploma and Foundation Degree.
Speaking about the Employment Bill, Mr Newcomb said: “The BMF wants the new government to ensure that future funding provision is sufficiently attractive to encourage merchants to invest in their business and provide high-quality apprenticeships in the building materials’ supply chain.
“Apprenticeships are the life-blood of the building materials’ industry we serve. They tend to be keen, motivated and willing to learn because they choose in-work training to develop their career. Many apprentices go on to become branch or team leaders in merchant businesses.
Mr Newcomb continued: “We want to remind Ministers that exemption from paying National Insurance Contributions on earnings is a popular and effective incentive for merchants to take on apprentices. We look forward to seeing how the proposed apprenticeship voucher scheme will give employers greater say in the standard and relevance of the training their apprentices receive.”
The BMF welcomed the government’s intention for the Enterprise Bill to cut red tape for British business. In particular, the Federation applauds signals from the new Business Secretary, Savid Javid MP, that he will implement legislation passed by the last government to tackle the thorny issue of late payments and use measures such as the Small Business Conciliation Service to combat the worst late payment practices.
Over the past two years, the BMF has helped the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills shape proposals on (for example) standard, maximum and average payment times and terms that were passed into law on the last day of the last Parliament.
“For far too long, a culture of late payment has existed within the corporate world towards small and medium-sized firms like the merchants the BMF represents,” acknowledged Mr Newcomb. “Previous attempts by governments of any colour to eradicate bad practice using voluntary approaches have not been successful. Ministers in the coalition government made a positive start to compel big businesses to report on their payment practices and to strengthen the Prompt Payment Code.”
Mr Newcomb added: “We applaud Mr Javid’s intention to keep the momentum going to help solve late payment. Our message to him is that late means late, not extended - and bills ought to be settled to time, to agreed terms, free of unnecessary charges. Small to medium-sized businesses can no longer be expected to lend money, interest-free, to large companies. It causes cashflow problems that can be avoided if bills are paid promptly, in full, without unnecessary dispute or delay.”