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INDUSTRY NEWS


ALDOUS BILL GAINS CLOUT AS PARLIAMENTARY SUPPORT SWELLS


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number of the most senior MPs in Parliament are now backing retentions reform, according to leading engineering services bodies Electrical


Contractors’ Association (ECA) and the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA). Newly announced supporters of the Aldous Bill include 15 select committee chairs from the four largest political parties, who also make up a substantial portion of the Liaison Committee in Parliament, a powerful group tasked with holding the Prime Minister to account, and with the ability to recommend topics for debate in the House of Commons. Cross-party parliamentary support for retentions


reform now stands at over 270 MPs. ECA deputy director of business policy and practicem


Rob Driscoll, said: “This level of support from the most senior politicians in the country highlights the significance of this issue, and importantly shows that there is a ready- made solution available. ECA and BESA will continue


to work with government to press for legislation on retentions.” BESA head of legal and commercial, Debbie Petford,


added: “A year after the collapse of Carillion, its catastrophic impact is still being felt by many small companies all over the UK. We welcome this vast level of cross-party support which highlights the continuing importance of a legislative solution to the issue of retentions.”


The Aldous Bill, named after Peter Aldous MP, aims


to protect construction subcontractors by holding cash retentions in third party accounts. Cash retentions is money held back by larger contractors and clients in case defects arise on work undertaken, but the system is known to be widely abused. The second reading of the Bill is now expected to be held on Friday March 8 2019. Retentions reform is also supported by an industry coalition of around 85 trade associations and professional bodies.


UK CONSTRUCTION DIPS AMID BREXIT UNCERTAINTY


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he outlook for the UK construction industry has been downgraded, with growth


prospects diverging by sector and Brexit uncertainty intensifying. A lack of clarity surrounding the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has persisted since previous forecasts and estimates for growth are now weaker.


Just six months ago, the 2019


construction output was forecast to rise by 2.3%. However, the Construction Products Association’s Winter Forecasts now anticipate activity to rise by only 0.3% Private housing and infrastructure


sectors remain the primary drivers of industry growth in the coming years. The confirmed extension of the government’s Help to Buy scheme through to March 2023 continues to encourage housebuilding activity, with output forecast to rise 2% in 2019 and 1% in 2020. The infrastructure sector is expected to reach its highest level on record in 2019, driven by large projects such as HS2, Thames


Tideway and Hinkley Point C. There remain concerns, however, about government’s ability to deliver major infrastructure projects, as highlighted by the cost overruns and delays seen most recently on Crossrail, and suspension of the second new power station, Wylfa. Infrastructure growth is forecast to rise by 8.8% in 2019 and 7.7% in 2020. Brexit doubts continue to drive expectations for the sharpest construction decline in the commercial sector, particularly felt in the offices sub-sector. Investors have signalled that uncertainty is too high to justify significant up-front investment, and output is expected to fall 20% in 2019. However, Brexit-related


uncertainties can help drive growth in other sub-sectors. The harbours sector is expected to grow by 12% in 2019 and 10% in 2020, and could be higher if works on improvements and expansions of ports need to be carried out. If there are major issues around Brexit, warehousing will be another


sector that benefits from increased activity due to demand for storage and stockpiling facilities. Following growth of 20% in 2018, construction activity in this sector is forecast to rise a further 10% in 2019 and 2020. Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, said: “Our latest construction forecasts are conditional on either a revised Brexit withdrawal being agreed with the EU and getting through UK Parliament, or a delay to Article 50. However, even if this occurs, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is clearly affecting the construction industry in areas that require high investment up front for a long-term rate of return such as commercial offices, which is expected to fall by 20% in 2019 on the back of sharp falls in new orders in 2017 and 2018.


“If the government can improve its delivery of major infrastructure projects, then construction output could outperform our forecasts in spite of Brexit uncertainty. However, it is a big ‘if’.”


Inbrief Sponsored by


Mitsubishi Electric has added TF Solutions to its family of sales partners as a Value Added Reseller (VAR), expanding the firm’s coverage within the UK market.


gb.mitsubishielectric.com/en


Humidification specialist Condair has appointed Tony Fleming as its head of sales cluster for Northern Europe. www.condair.co.uk


In response to the publication of the government’s Clean Air Strategy, FläktGroup has called for more to be done to tackle Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). www.flaktgroup.com


Essex-based Gibbons Engineering Group has cause for celebration this year, with 2019 marking its 50th anniversary. www.gibbonsgroup.co.uk


Andrews Water Heaters has extended its greener cashback scheme for anyone upgrading a commercial water heater to one of its new greener models. andrewswaterheaters.co.uk


ADEY has launched a new Commercial division of the business, dedicated to providing a complete package of water management solutions and services for commercial heating and cooling systems. www.adey.com


Leading wood burning stove supplier, Specflue, has welcomed the comments of Environment Secretary Michael Gove at the launch of the government’s Clean Air Strategy on January 14. www.specflue.com


Toshiba Air Conditioning has launched its Flammable Refrigerant Training Programme for installers, designed to ensure safe handling of R32 and other flammable refrigerants during installation, servicing and ongoing operation. www.toshiba-aircon.co.uk


Stuart Turner has been appointed as national sales manager for ELCO Heating Solutions. www.elco.co.uk


www.heatingandventilating.net


February 2019


7


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