Newly elected chairman of the Construction Products Association (CPA) Adrian Barden, addressed a 500-strong audience at the CPA annual lunch this week, and warned the UK must remain competitive to prevent businesses moving abroad to countries with lower environmental standards.
To achieve this, he urged the government to recognise the importance of reducing the burden of tax and regulation to ensure continues and future investment from international companies.
He said, “The future success of the construction products industry in this country depends on ensuring the UK is a place where the international companies that now dominate the sector want to invest. The burden of tax and regulation is increasing at a faster rate than in many other countries, and energy prices here are higher. The government needs to recognise that competition is no longer just with Europe, but between Europe and other parts of the world which have a much lower cost base.”
Barden welcomed the government’s ambition to build 240,000 new zero-carbon homes a year by 2016. But questioned how this would be achieved unless the government did more to ensure sufficient land was made available. He said, “Do any of the major political parties have the courage to address this? Our industry needs to know sooner rather than later because we have to make the investments that will deliver the products to achieve this and those investments cannot be approved and implemented overnight.
“New build may be high profile, but what will really make a difference is what we do to improve the existing building stock. I find it staggering that a government that is so committed to addressing climate change has chosen to do so little to encourage improvement to the energy efficiency of our existing buildings. Worse still they persist in charging VAT at the full rate on energy saving products yet at a lower rate on the energy we are trying to save.”