Construction & Built Environment Sector News... A round up

22 June 2021

It’s been a busy time for the Sector, so we’ve highlighted some of the biggest news to hit the Construction & Built Environment world in recent months…

1. Readie became the latest in a string of firms in the sector to be sold by the owners to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOTs).

EOTs allow owners to sell businesses without incurring capital gains tax. Employees can receive tax-free bonuses of up to £3,600 from such trusts.

In doing so Readie became the largest construction company in the UK to be sold to its employees with their most recent annualised turnover being almost £200m.

Chairman Stuart Read, who was also the company’s founder, commented “Many of the staff have been with Readie throughout our rapid growth and the transition to employee ownership was the logical next step in the development of the company. The creation of an EOT enables us to preserve the legacy of the Readie brand and will help cement our status as a leading contractor in the industrial and logistics sector.”

For more information – check out how to create a lasting legacy with EOTs.

2. Construction buyers saw output growth at its strongest since September 2014 last month as new order volumes increased at the fastest pace for a quarter of a century.

Growth was fastest in the house building sector, reflecting a boom in the housing market – with house prices rising by more than 10.2%, the highest annual growth rate seen since August 2007 before the global financial crash.

3. Travis Perkins plc, Britain’s biggest builder’s merchant this month warned customers of “considerable” cost increases to a wide range of raw materials in a move that will fuel further fears of an inflationary price in the UK economy.

The company advised customers that bagged cement prices would increase by 15%; chipboard by 10%; and paint by 5%.

A Travis Perkins spokesperson told BBC News: “In instances where we have seen some challenges posed by global demand for raw materials or inflationary pressures, we continue to work closely with our suppliers and partners to minimise price increases where possible, whilst also ensuring healthy stock availability for all of our customers.”

There were also warnings that lead times may be extended past their estimated delivery date due to high demand.

The move follows months of warnings over material shortages facing the industry, including from the Construction Leadership Council over timber demand, as well as Hanson restricting its bagged cement supplies. British Steel stopped taking orders on structural sections in May.

4. In April, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick announced a raft of new planning rules allowing the conversion of high street premises into housing without planning permission. They add to the existing permitted development (PD) rights that have already been announced.

The cynics would say the timing of this announcement, just before the Easter parliamentary recess, was planned to minimise scrutiny.

A number of built environment professional bodies have jointly written to Boris Johnson explaining the downside of the reforms – no quality control over the new housing, and high streets gone forever.

5. Planned legislation to recognise overseas architects’ professional qualifications in the UK was revealed in the Queen’s Speech in May.

The government said the introduction of the ‘Professional Qualifications Bill’ to Parliament would help the country ‘address where the demand for skills isn’t currently being met’.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the proposed new law would help create ‘a clearer framework’ for recognising overseas titles such as ‘architect’ and that this vital piece of legislation will ‘ensure skilled professionals from around the world are able to have their qualifications recognised in the UK, allowing us to attract the brightest and best as we build back better.’

RIBA chief executive, Alan Vallance, said ‘This is good news. We’ve been urging the government to introduce legislation to enable international recognition of professional qualifications as a critical post-Brexit priority, for a number of years.’