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CEF Work in progess - November 2021

CEF continues to work on behalf of the industry on a wide range of issues.

Materials Availability and Pricing Crisis – Procurement Advisory Note (PAN)

After the agreement and publication of the PAN at the start of August, consultation was completed with CPD on example templates for potential claims in mid-October. RICS have agreed special subscription rates for CEF members to assist in formulating claims using BCIS indices. Since then, members have been working with Government Clients on these claims with over 100 contracts now availing of what has been put in place. The next few weeks will be key to determining how much assistance this has given contractors – and what further steps may need taken in the New Year.  

 

NI Procurement Board
Through CEF’s membership of the Procurement Board, work has recently commenced that seeks agreement between industry and government on a revised set of standardised X and Z clauses for the NEC4 contract. Additionally, work is close to competing on revisions to the quality of the data in the NI Procurement Pipeline while we have separately been engaging with CPD and other CoPE’s around contractor notation values from Constructionline which are beginning to be negatively affected by the impact of lower turnover for many firms resulting from the pandemic.

 

Construction Leadership Council
Through the CEF’s CO2nstructZero Task Force, members have recently been joining as Business Champions in the UK Government/BEIS programme that is committing businesses across the sector to achieving Net Zero by 2050. Further calls to become champions take place regularly so please do get in touch for more information.

 

Separately, at the November meeting of the CLC, the CEF raised special issues of importance to NI in relation to CE markings while also discussing the application of the Construction Playbook, skills and outreach to schools.


Building Regulations – first uplift consultation now live

The Part F Phase One uplift consultation – which focuses on new buildings with the aim for a better/lower carbon dioxide emissions performance, more use of PV panels and enhancing insulation requirements – is now live with a return date for submissions of 19th December. The CEF is currently engaging with members on its response to this but is, broadly, supportive of what is being proposed.

 

Housing policy consultations

As part of the final element of consultation on the Department for Communities Housing Supply Strategy, we are shortly to hold a members’ roundtable with DfC. The final Strategy is due to go live in the spring.

 

Separately, the Department of Finance has launched a consultation on amending building control fees charged by local councils. The current fees charged by local councils for most building control applications for domestic buildings are set and have remained unchanged since 2013. In addition to proposing amending the fees, the consultation is seeking views on revising the fee structure going forward. The deadline for our response to this is 19th December.


Wages and other benefits promulgation

The Joint Council for the Building & Civil Engineering Industry (Northern Ireland) decided to, on 20th October, promulgate the following changes effective from 3rd January 2022:

Wage increase on the “Blue Book” rates of 3%
Sick pay increases from £80 to £100
Death in service benefit increases from £30,000 to £40,000 with an additional £40,000 payable if death is an accident at work or travelling to or from work.

 

Multi-year capital budget draws near

Following the UK Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review announcement by the Chancellor on 27th October, the NI Executive now knows its Capital Budget baseline for the coming 3 financial years to March 2025. This is, with the current year added in for comparison:

2021-22 - £1.7bn
2022-23 - £1.8bn
2023-24 - £1.9bn
2024-25 - £1.8bn

Finance Minister Conor Murphy has promised that the Executive will bring forward a draft 3-year Budget for consultation before Christmas. The CEF will engage with members on this once published.

 

Manifesto for 2022 NI Assembly Election

With May’s NI Assembly Election drawing near, we are putting the finishing touches on our Manifesto which will lay out the key asks from the construction sector of the next NI Executive.