Government’s road to ‘de-mask-us’ conversion

Government’s road to ‘de-mask-us’ conversion

BLOG · BY TTF CEO DAVID HOPKINS · 7 July 2021

This week has seen some big announcements affecting our sector already. On Monday we relaunched the APPG for the Timber Industries and yesterday the Government published its much anticipated Draft Building Safety Bill. 

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I am really pleased to say that the relaunch of the APPG was a real success. The MPs who attended were very engaged, and amongst those MPs who sent their apologies from the meeting there are many eager to join the APPG and learn more.

David Warburton, MP for Frome and Somerton, has agreed to take on the role of Chair and written to parliamentary colleagues from across all party divides to join as officers and members of the APPG. These will be ratified fully at our AGM in the coming months.

The meeting gave a chance to reintroduce the timber industry to MPs and highlight the key benefits our sector brings to a number of policy goals, as well as the challenges we face and over which we would like their support.

I would like to extend a big thank you to all members who took the time to write to their MPs over this past month encouraging them to attend, as this has proven to be invaluable. If you do receive a late reply from an MP who missed the meeting but would like to join the APPG, do let us know, as we are continuing to actively follow up responses.

Of course, many of you will have noted another big piece of news in the papers yesterday, as the Government released the Building Safety Bill. At about 218 pages, I will be the first to admit I have not had the time to read into the minutiae of the proposal and how it has changed since its first iteration last year, or to consider all it legal and regulatory implications; but it does appear to follow through with on a promised sweeping overhaul of building regulations in England and Wales.

There are significant regulatory changes coming with the establishment of a new Building Safety Regulator for high rise buildings, and the creation of clear decision-making points and assignments of responsibilities, with the Government aiming to drive a culture of building safety throughout the supply chain. The bill is also paving the way for a national regulator for construction products, which is being established within the Office of Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

As the bill moves forward we will be seeking to provide more in-depth analysis for members about how this will change construction in the UK, and how it will affect your businesses. For now, we would encourage you to monitor the statements being released and we will update you in more detail in due course.

Finally, nobody can have missed the news that the Government is relaxing restrictions over mask-wearing, social distancing, working from home and other areas of covid guidance from July 19. Responsibility has been shifted from Government to individuals fairly swiftly.

Opinions are clearly divided on the wisdom of this move, with many predicting the impact of another wave of infections in the autumn and winter months.

From a personal point of view, I have to say I am aggrieved that a Government full of ex-tabloid journalists could not come up with a better phrase than Freedom Day to commemorate this. Surely, this volte face in the official position amounts to nothing less than a ‘road to de-mask-us’ conversion?

[in fact, we’re so pleased with the pun, we’ve made it today’s headline!]

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