Construction Employers Federation represents the interests not only of its members but those of roughly 65,000 skilled workers engaged within the wider construction sector. The following give a flavour of the many strands of work ongoing by CEF:
NI Procurement Board
Two meetings in and this newly constituted Board is starting to gain traction in reforming public procurement. Early progress addressing CEF requests includes a review of existing guidance notes and commitment that policy will be implemented across all public sector consistently.
Construction Leadership Council
After attending a number of briefings on CLC’s progress on many fronts, CEF as part of the Senior Advisory Panel has been able to support, question and offer opinion on matters including zero carbon, Covid SOP, skills and Brexit.
CEF joined the Build UK in writing to the Treasury and supporting the social media #stopReverseVAT campaign. CEF also highlighted to fellow trade associations in GB the importance of understanding and embracing new procedures to maintain supply chain across the Irish Sea.
NI Exec Budget
The NI Executive draft Budget for 2021/22 shows an uplift in capital expenditure which will be crucial to many contractors as the sector begins to rebuild. In our engagement with Government, we are focusing on the urgent need for detailed spending breakdowns as well as, in the longer term, multi-year budgets to ensure greater efficiency and productivity in government spending.
UK public procurement common framework
While most procurement rules remain the same across the UK after Brexit, under threshold procurement may possibly be restricted on a local authority basis in, particularly, England. This could cause issues for NI-based firms and we are highlighting this with CPD, the Department for the Economy and the NI Assembly’s Finance Committee.
Brexit – reminder about TSS
It is crucial that any firm bringing goods in directly from GB be signed up to the Trader Support Service. This is the best means to ensure that any goods are delivered in a timely manner now that the Brexit Transition period has ended. The CEF continues to work with other business organisations and the NI Executive to ensure that the Protocol operates as smoothly as possible.
Planning review and engagement partnership
Department for Infrastructure are shortly to take forward a formal review of Northern Ireland’s planning system in the context of challenging factors such as timely responses from statutory consultees and ever lengthening pre-commencement conditions. As part of this, the CEF sits on a Ministerial panel considering changes to pre-application community consultation for major and regionally significant planning applications that is due to complete its work by the autumn.
Housing supply strategy
A key element of the NI Executive’s outcomes-focused Programme for Government is the development of a new Housing Supply Strategy. As part of a Department for Communities Housing Panel, the CEF is well placed to influence this as work is taken forward towards the publication of a final strategy at the start of 2022. A substantial round of stakeholder consultation on the developing strategy will commence in the Spring.
CEF continues to work closely with NI Water to identify engineering solutions that can be taken forward on some sites where significant capital upgrades to nearby WWTW remain some time off. New processes are in place to consider each new housing application individually and the industry is strongly encouraged to submit a pre-development enquiry to NI Water for a site as early as possible in the process. Looking to the future, we will continue to advocate for increases in NI Water’s annual capital budget as well as the governance and structural changes to NI Water which would enable them to have greater budget certainty for each of their six-year price control processes.
For more information on the Construction Employers Federation, visit: www.cefni.co.uk