Urgent work to make buildings safer can be undertaken now that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a £1bn building safety fund, says Helen Hewitt, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation.
“We welcome the government’s commitment to a £1bn building safety fund which will allow urgent work to be undertaken to make the UK’s housing safer. However, in order to safeguard millions of people, funding must also include provision for the replacement of fire doors as well as cladding removal,” she says.
“We know that a significant number of councils in the UK have yet to replace inadequate fire doors, and that a number of doors still in use do not satisfy the 30-minute burn time standard. This means that people remain at risk of fires spreading through the buildings they live in. The Government must support local authorities in replacing fire doors by providing central funding, and by giving clear and unambiguous guidance on fire door specification, maintenance and testing.”
Hewitt believes that measures announced in yesterday’s Budget are an important boost to UK housebuilding, and present a number of opportunities for the woodworking and joinery manufacturing sector.
“Using timber construction products the UK has an opportunity to become a sustainable construction global leader in the post-Brexit economy. Plus, there are associated cost savings across the lifespan of the buildings. Research from the Wood Window Alliance has showed that wood window frames made to their specification have an average life span of 60 years; that’s double that of their PVCu equivalents,” she says.
The investment in further education was also a welcome addition, allowing for a boost to building provision in certain skilled trades, and support vital education and apprenticeship programmes that help develop the skills that are so vitally needed in the woodworking sector. We look forward to engaging in the National Skills Fund consultation in the spring, to help the Government and our industry tackle the ongoing skills shortage within the construction industry.”