CEF Work in progess - October 2021
CEF Managing Director, Mark Spence, discusses some of the issues the Federation is currently working on:
Materials Availability and Pricing Crisis
After the agreement and publication of the Procurement Advisory Note (PAN) at the start of August, CEF has continued dialogue with CPD to illustrate by way of worked examples the mechanisms to deal with contractors’ claims. Publication of these is imminent and it is important that contractors engage with their Government Clients on claims for current contracts. It is also important that we have sought, and achieved, the agreement of all Government Clients to the PAN – including the housing association sector with respect to the SHDP.
NI Procurement Board
Through CEF’s membership of the Procurement Board, work continues to review all existing Procurement Guidance Notes. When this exercise is concluded, the remaining/revised PGN’s will be issued as Procurement Policy Notes after being adopted by the NI Executive. Separately, work continues to improve the visibility and robustness of public sector pipeline. A CEF member group is involved in developing training that will be offered to contractors from January to help understand what is required for delivering the Social Value PPN that was agreed in the summer.
Construction Leadership Council
Through the CEF’s CO2nstructZero Task Force, members have recently been invited to join with the CEF as Business Champions in the UK Government/BEIS programme that is committing businesses across the sector to achieving Net Zero by 2050. Linked to this agenda, the CEF is working with CITB NI on a carbon literacy training programme for contractors and their staff – further details to follow.
CEF has lobbied with Build UK against the upcoming end of the Red Diesel rebate as well as discussing alternative fuels such as HVO which have been highlighted to members.
New Infrastructure Commission
After being very supportive of the Infrastructure Minister’s Ministerial Advisory Panel when it was launched last year, we welcomed the announcement that the NI Executive will now support the establishment of an independent Infrastructure Commission for NI. It is to be legislatively established within a two-year period that ends in August 2023 and we look forward to it beginning its work.
Given the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, it was welcome that the Infrastructure Minister recently announced a further extension to 31st March 2022 of the temporary suspension of the requirement to hold a public event as part of pre-application community consultation on major planning applications. Additionally, we look forward to the publication of a report we have been involved with, as part of a Ministerial Panel, on enhancing community consultation as part of our planning system.
Building Regulations – first uplift consultation
The proposed Part F Phase One uplift consultation – which will likely focus on new buildings with the aim for a better/lower carbon dioxide emissions performance, more use of PV panels and enhancing insulation requirements – will go live imminently. Once published, the CEF will respond formally to the consultation in due course.
DfI Road Bond Review
Through the CEF’s Private Housing Committee, the CEF met with DfI Roads in September to discuss their Road Bond Review, the first since 2008. They have drafted a paper, to be shared with the Infrastructure Minister, which concludes that rates should be increased by a range of %ages (13-27) depending on road type (shared surface/6.0m road/7.3m road) and also that rates should be index linked. Broadly, members were supportive of this but highlighted concerns around resourcing and the need, in return, to find better ways to promptly reduce and release bonds. Further engagement with DfI Roads has been sought on this.
Autumn Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review
The industry keenly awaits the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget Statement on 27th October as it will also detail the NI Executive’s resource and capital spending through to 2024/25. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Executive will agree a multi-year budget before the Assembly dissolves in March for May’s election. A multi-year approach has been a long-standing demand by the CEF, and we will continue to campaign for it to be brought forward as soon as possible.