March 16, 2017
BSRIA has published a new white paper to explore how issues related to Brexit will impact the UK’s built environment sector. The report highlights the ways in which the industry that supports the built environment has a major impact on the overall UK economy and plays a positive role in supporting the government’s climate change and emissions reduction objectives. According to the white paper, the sector is particularly sensitive to the uncertainties surrounding Brexit because it is technology intensive, requires a highly-skilled workforce, and is very dependent on international trade.
The three major opportunities arising from Brexit identified in the report are:
- The possibility of greater international trade.
- The possibility of a more streamlined regulatory environment.
- An increased motivation to boost the UK skills base.
The four threats arising from Brexit are:
- Potential lack of access to skilled labour.
- Potential lack of access to the single market, with potential consequences for tariff and non-tariff barriers.
- Future divergence from, and lack of influence over, European standards and regulations.
- Uncertainty over future research funding in the UK.
There are six main priority issues identified in the white paper:
- Access to the remaining EU. That government seeks to ensure as full as possible access to the EU single market on the best possible terms. There was a clear and strong view from BSRIA members that such access would be required for the general wellbeing of the UK economy on which the specific sectors associated with BSRIA depend. Also, with over £2.8bn of goods being imported into the UK in this industry, any impediment to trade, either tariff or non-tariff, will have a considerable impact.
- International Trade. That government does everything possible to quickly secure new trade deals with countries outside the EU as well as with the EU with a particular focus on the services our industry provides.
- Access to skilled labour from the remaining EU. That government ensures that EU nationals currently working in the industry are given immediate formal assurances that they and their families will be free to continue to live and work in the UK. Further, that government ensures a system is put in place that enables UK companies in this sector to continue to access the highly skilled labour they need in the future from the remaining EU and the worldwide market.
- Research funding. That government gives an assurance that any short fall in research funds resulting from the UK no longer qualifying for EU research funds post Brexit will be made up from UK sources. It is crucial that government understands that the UK Built Environment industry both creates and is dependent on technology and innovation which requires a healthy and growing level of R&D funding. In addition, government must understand that increased R&D funding will help the UK Built Environment industry to compete more successfully both in the UK and in existing and new overseas markets.
- Standards and regulation. That government works to ensure as much stability and comparability on regulation and standards as possible post Brexit. BSRIA stands by to assist the UK government in any review of how standards and regulations affect this vital industry. BSRIA member organisations are strongly of the view that government should provide clarity by stating a minimum period of time during which there will be no variation of existing standards and regulations. Government must work to ensure as much stability and comparability on regulation and standards as possible post Brexit is achieved.
- Skills funding. That government takes the opportunity provided by Brexit to further invest in and promote the education and skills that the industry needs, by continuing to support apprenticeships, and increasing access to higher, and most particularly further and vocational education.
BSRIA now intends to embark on a programme of government and parliamentary engagement to ensure the industry’s voice is heard throughout the negotiation process. Julia Evans, BSRIA Chief Executive, said: “There are several issues that are of severe concern to our industry. Without satisfactory resolution, these could have a large negative impact on the industry and the 562,000 people employed within it. Likewise, the EU negotiation and the UK’s new role in the world represent a real opportunity to strengthen and grow this vital industry with opportunities for greater international trade, better focussed regulation and developing a stronger indigenous UK skills base. The transitional period will undoubtedly be challenging and from time to time difficult, however, there is a sense of purpose around the subjects which affect this sector of the economy and they deserve and indeed demand attention.”