Industry News

Housing crisis in London: BMF proposes to add extra storeys on existing buildings

The Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF) has produced its proposal to tackle the housing crisis in London without affecting the Green Belt.

According to the organisation, "new-build housing cannot provide enough homes needed in London to overcome today's housing crisis. Better use has to be made of existing buildings and building upwards to add extra storeys must be one of the solutions that leads to the completion of extra housing in the capital."

John Newcomb, Managing Director of the BMF, commented: “No-one wants a repeat of bad high-rise housing from the past. But the BMF believes better use can be made of existing buildings. As these figures show, there is scope to dramatically increase the number of new homes. Allowing London property to be extended upwards, for limited number of storeys, up to the height of adjoining buildings, without needing prior approval, is a good way to do so. It is not the single solution to today’s housing crisis but it is a good one, worth pursuing”.

The scale of the problem in London is very stark. The figures published jointly by the Minister for Housing and the Mayor of London show that 49,000 extra homes per year are required to narrow the gap between housing demand & supply. Yet on average, only 25,000 additional units have been completed each year since 2008. And of these, fewer than 2% were as a result of projects that included some element of upward extension work.

The BMF concluded its remarks by reminding politicians that demand for housing is far outstripping supply. The concept of enabling London to “build up” more easily should be introduced as quickly and smoothly as possible to allow owner-occupiers and landlords to complete un-contentious projects that conform to the rules.


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BMF MD John Newcomb elected to CPA Executive Committee

John Newcomb, Managing Director of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), has been elected Officer of the Construction Products Association (CPA).

He will hold the non-executive position of Vice-Chairman on the CPA’s Executive Committee. Mr Newcomb will also continue to sit on the CPA’s Trade Association Council, formed of senior personnel from member trade associations.

CPA CEO Diana Montgomery said: "The BMF and its members play a valuable role in the construction materials supply chain. I have no doubt that John will be a valuable asset on the CPA Executive Committee, and look forward to working with him.”

Commenting on his appointment, John Newcomb underlined: “I am a great supporter of the CPA which plays an essential role supporting the interests of UK construction product manufacturers and suppliers, many of whom are BMF members. I am looking forward to playing a full role on the Executive Committee.”


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BMF launches Leadership Programme for SME managers

The Builders Merchants Federation has launched LEAD, a practical 10 month programme, to help owners and senior personnel in small and medium sized builders merchants to enhance their leadership skills and grow their business.

The LEAD programme, designed in collaboration with leadership and strategy development specialists QuoLux, aims to equip SME owner managers and directors with practical skills and relevant information they can use to make a difference within their business.

Each course deliberately mixes owner managers and directors of small and medium sized enterprises from a variety of industry sectors.

Learning occurs through a range of formats including an initial Overnight Experiential, monthly Masterclasses, one-to-one Coaching, small group Action Learning Sets, Shadowing and Reflection days.

No formal qualifications are required to take the course and it can form the first stage of a Master’s Degree. Delegates can have their learning on LEAD accredited to receive a Postgraduate Certificate in Personal and Professional Practice from the University of Gloucestershire that can form the basis for a Postgraduate Diploma and an MBA in Leading Business.

Richard Ellithorne, BMF Membership Services Director, commented: “People assimilate information in different ways and it is important for the BMF to recognise this and offer a range of learning opportunities for people to explore.  This is also one of the first courses we have offered that focuses on the specific skills required by those leading a relatively small business, to take it to the next stage.”

Stewart Barnes, who heads up QuoLux, added: “A major focus of the course is learning from other participants’ experience and with no potential competitors in the room they find it easier to open up about the issues they are facing.  More often than not they discover they are not alone. Most problems are common across all business sectors and working together within a supportive peer-group environment is a key factor in the programme’s success.”

For more information contact [email protected].


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Scotland Secretary of State David Mundell MP strengthens links with builders merchants

On 6 April 2016 the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP, visited Dumfries Timber Company Group to discuss the role of builders merchants in the construction supply chain and the wider economy.  

Mr Mundell heard how builders, plumbers and timber merchants supply everyday trade essentials and value-added products to both trade and retail customers.

The visit was facilitated by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), which represents 510 companies with 4500 outlets, employing over 95,000 people across the UK, 

Dumfries Timber Company Group is an independently owned group of businesses selling a full range of building materials. Later this year they will be opening a brand new home improvement centre in the town which includes a 3,000 square foot kitchens and fitted bedroom showroom.

During the visit Mr Mundell met with staff and discussed careers in construction generally, and merchanting in particular.  He heard about recent initiatives to take on more apprenticeships and attract young people into the industry.  

The Secretary of State, the Rt. Hon David Mundell MP said:“Builders merchants are the lifeblood of the building industry. I am always pleased to celebrate business success in my part of the world, and I am delighted to support Dumfries Timber Company Group who play a key role in the construction supply chain across South West Scotland”.

Donald Young, Managing Director of Dumfries Timber Company Group commented: “Just 9 years ago, Dumfries Timber Company Group was a fledgling business with just 6 employees. We now employ 42 people at 3 sites, and have a turnover of £8 million.  Dumfries is our home town, and we will continue to invest in the area. We look forward to welcoming new customers to our new showroom in the coming months.”

Brett Amphlett, Policy and Public Affairs Manager at the BMF added: “Builders merchants represent 10% of the total construction output in the UK, and local merchants such as Dumfries Timber Company Group play a huge part in local economies, for example by providing employment and offering credit to local builders. The BMF is delighted that the Minister has recognised the importance of our sector in his visit today.”


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BMF claims victory on Government climbdown over reduced VAT for energy-saving materials

The Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF) has welcomed the announcement that the Government will keep the current reduced rate of Value-Added Tax on the supply and professional installation of energy-saving materials despite losing a European court case last year.

On Monday the Prime Minister told the House of Commons that his Government will not oppose a move by Conservative MPs - acting with the Labour Party - to stop VAT on insulation, heating & hot water system controls, heat pumps, and solar panels being levied at the 20% standard rate.

Since June 2012, the BMF has been working with economists and Government representatives to keep 5% VAT on energy-saving materials defined in eleven product categories under EU law. In particular materials and products affected are: - insulation for walls, floors, ceilings, roofs or lofts, or water tanks, pipes or other plumbing fittings; - draught-stripping for windows & doors; - central heating system controls inc. thermostatic radiator valves;- hot water system controls;- solar panels;- wind and water turbines; - air-source and ground-source heat pumps; - micro-combined heat and power units; - boilers fuelled by wood, straw or similar plant matter.

Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy & Public Affairs’ Manager, commented: “We are very pleased the Government will keep the reduced rate on materials and products that BMF members distribute. This is a significant victory for the BMF and a good news for merchants, manufacturers, solar panel installers and insulation contractors".

“Now the legislation has been passed, improvements can continue to enjoy the 5% rate to make homes warmer, cut bills and save money. omorrow (Thursday) Energy and Climate Change ministers will be in the House for their monthly question time. I hope, by then, the Government will have clarified its position so we know how ministers intend to keep existing relief despite being at odds with EU law and the court ruling”, Mr Amphlett concluded.