Housing and Planning Minister, Alok Sharma has welcomed plans by Ibstock, the UK’s largest brick manufacturer, to invest £50m in a new factory in Leicestershire.
Speaking today at the Builders Merchants Federation’s Members Day, attended by representatives of the UK’s leading builders’ merchants, Alok Sharma emphasised the vital role builders merchants play in getting more homes built in this country
He welcomed the success of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) as a major representative of the sector and commended the resilient performance of builders merchants throughout 2017, supporting housebuilding and building repair and refurbishment across the UK.
According to the latest figures released by the BMF through the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI), builders merchants year-to-date sales are 3.8% higher compared to the same period in 2016.
The Housing and Planning Minister also highlighted the need for the Government and sector to work together to improve fairness across the housing market, bridging the skills gap and encouraging the development of well-designed and good quality homes.
Alok Sharma, Housing and Planning Minister, said: “Delivering more homes is a key priority for this Government. Builders merchants have an absolutely vital role to play in this, supplying the essential materials we need to get our country building faster.
“Ibstock’s major investment at their Leicestershire site is fantastic news for the building materials industry, demonstrating continuing confidence in this sector and growing consumer demand.
“I congratulate the resilient performance of UK builders’ merchants over this year, and I look forward to working with the sector to put into action the far-reaching reforms of the Housing White Paper. By working together, we will ensure we have the right building blocks in place to meet local housing needs and promote growth across all areas of the country.”
Speaking at the event, BMF CEO, John Newcomb confirmed that builders’ merchants order books are being sustained by private housing and RMI work. However, he warns that as Britain prepares to leave the EU, the industry is bracing to face upcoming challenges posed by increasing prices due to the falling value of sterling, and the potential of shortages in certain key products.
John Newcomb, BMF CEO, said: “As a country we need to build many more homes, but these cannot be built without the materials and products that BMF members make, stock and deliver on a daily basis to where they are needed. There are also thousands of households wanting to repair, extend or adapt their home, and again they rely on builders’ merchants to provide the materials to do this.
“Despite our members’ robust performance so far this year, there are still some challenges facing our sector such as the supply of materials and the potential for the price of materials to increase due to higher commodity prices and fluctuations in exchange rates. We also want to see the Government press ahead with its proposals contained in the Housing White Paper, as this will bring a welcome boost to housebuilders”.
Mr Newcomb also pointed to Ibstock’s £50 mllion investment as a sign that the UK building materials industry is rising to the challenges posed by Brexit and the Government’s housebuilding plans.
Wayne Sheppard, Chief Executive Officer of Ibstock, said: “We’re incredibly proud to be making such a significant investment in our Leicestershire site. Brick is the number one construction material of choice, and we are increasing our production capacity in order to meet growing demand from our customers that is being driven by growth in housebuilding.
“We welcome the Housing Minister’s positive comments about Ibstock’s investment, and we are pleased to see the Government recognise the important role that the building materials supply chain plays in providing essential materials to support housing growth and growing the economy across the country”.