Building a strong, sustainable market for Timber You Can Trust
This blog post is by TTF Managing Director David Hopkins
Happy New Year to you all. I’m sure by now you have recovered from the excesses of a well-earned Christmas break and are back into the thick of things.
For those who don’t know, this is the 125th anniversary of the Timber Trade Federation! I know that there are many among you who will remember this auspicious founding of the Federation. We are extremely grateful for your continued support and have a packed year ahead to help you celebrate in style.
There are also other major issues taking place which could have a huge bearing on the timber sector.
The ongoing Brexit talks to name just one. As you know, the TTF is working hard to lobby on your behalf and make sure the voice of the timber sector is heard amid the cacophony. We do this in conjunction with BWF and STA as the CTI, and we also do this with other trade bodies such as the CBI.
There are some key issues which could affect our sector, all of which we have been lobbying government about including: potential payment of VAT upfront if we leave the Customs Union; the role of EUTR in providing a strong framework and level playing field for the timber trade; and the danger of increased costs and slowdown to business models if we have to have increased border checks on goods as a result of leaving the Customs Union.
There are some very positive points on the horizon too, though. Timber is now very much in favour in construction and design – this could be seen very clearly during my meetings with the heads of planning and housing at the London Assembly to discuss the ‘London Plan’ which is currently open for consultation.
Likewise, meetings with Manchester City Council – for a city-wide development consultation which will come out later this year – yielded similar positive results.
At a central Government level, the Clean Growth Strategy which has been developed to complement the industrial strategy, looks favourably on timber throughout the supply chain. These are all areas which the TTF – working with partners – has helped influence positively.
We want to keep up this positive news to MPs and other policy makers. As you know, we have placed a lot of importance over the past two years on the importance of maintaining standards, positioning the TTF itself as the guardian of product standards, quality and sustainability. These issues will only become more important as we exit the European Union and we need to prove that we are not simply a dumping ground for sub-standard goods.
The TTF’s role in conducting the plywood review, the new projects to ensure proper standards are met in treated timber, and the regular strengthening of RPP all help to show the market of our intentions. It helps you to demonstrate your own credentials as a business by communicating this and displaying the TTF logo.
We have a lot of PR planned on these subjects in the timber press, the builders merchant press, and via our strong relations with other trade associations such as Builders Merchant Federation, National Federation of Builders, British Woodworking Federation and so on.
Finally, we are putting more emphasis on education and training. We have started this year in Edinburgh with refresher courses on some key themes – such as plywood, treatment and EUTR – and will be developing these around the country. We are also working with TFT Experts to develop a new award in timber knowledge, as well as other new qualifications to help you develop the staff in your own business.
There’s a lot going on. We want the world to know that we are building a strong, sustainable market for Timber You Can Trust.