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SNIPEF and the APHC have released a joint election manifesto, detailing where change is required to make the construction sector more resilient and sustainable.
With Brexit taking centre stage politically, the leading trade bodies for plumbing and heating professionals in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales, are urging Government to set aside some time to focus on four key areas where change is required in the trades; in order to promote growth and create a fairer competitive landscape. The four areas are:
- Payment abuse
- Green economy targets
Payment abuse in particular is responsible for insolvencies, while encouraging poor standards of work and a reduction in investment. Money worries can then lead to mental health issues amongst business owners. Suggestions within SNIPEF and the APHC's manifesto includes the implementation of penalties for serial late payers, with new laws to protect cash retentions.
Current pension legislation is having devastating consequences for hundreds of UK plumbing and heating businesses. “Owners of firms that have provided pensions to their employees through a multi-employer industry scheme are being hit with staggering bills under what is known as Section 75 employer debt,” the joint manifesto stated. “Calculated on a buy-out basis which is expensive, these payments – which are not necessarily required by the pension fund – are burying otherwise financially strong businesses under a mountain of unaffordable liabilities.”
Green economy targets
While the government's targets to move to a clean economy with zero net greenhouse gases are welcomed, the APHC and SNIPEF feel there needs to be more clarity on how these targets will be met. Employers need support to upskill the existing workforce, with other suggestions including better incentives for consumers to choose renewable technologies.
To address the ongoing skills shortage in the sector, the manifesto calls for government to support apprenticeships, including backing for older entrants, where the costs for employers are higher. “Plumbing and heating apprentice levels have not recovered from those pre-recession, during which they dropped by half,” APHC chief executive officer John Thompson said. “We are now faced with a skills shortage, and in the light of Brexit the position is only likely to get worse.