Our Commitment to You

Welcome


The Builders Merchants’ Federation exists to foster business-friendly conditions for its members. Policy and public affairs mean influencing parliaments and governments to explain the role, value and importance of merchants - and the Federation itself - in delivering for local communities.

The BMF strives to ensure the voice of its members is heard so their interests can be properly considered. In an ever-changing world, this is a vital service, especially for small independents. We are more effective in doing so than individual companies - not least, because BMF membership is at its highest level since 1985. Collectively, our merchants represent approx. 85% of the trade by turnover. This makes us the fourth largest trade association in construction and we are the ‘commentator of choice’ for the building materials’ supply chain.

Throughout the year, the BMF will be typically working on policy such as:

  • narrowing the gap between housing demand and supply;
  • simplifying and speeding-up planning & development approvals;
  • improving the thermal & energy performance of buildings towards net zero by 2050;
  • decarbonising road transport to reduce pollution and prepare for alternatively-fuelled vehicles;
  • educating businesses about the responsible use of natural resources;
  • encouraging investment in vocational training and skills inc. apprenticeships;
  • boosting the overall capacity and capability of our supply chain to deliver.

Our USP is that buildings & structures (especially housing) are not erected - nor are properties (especially homes) converted, extended, repaired, maintained or improved - without the primary materials and valued-add products that our members make, stock and deliver.

We hope you find the information helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact the people named.

Policy

 

Collaboration

In the 21st century, it is no longer enough to talk to Westminster and Whitehall. In England, there is a shift in local government with the devolution of functions and responsibility away from London to the regions - notably to directly-elected mayors. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own parliaments, assemblies and devolved administrations. The BMF works with policy-makers throughout the UK’s political system to ensure that our members and their interests are represented.

The BMF collaborates with more industry partners and property professionals than ever before. We participate in industry-led alliances like the Scottish CICV Forum and the Wales Construction Federation Alliance - to present a united front to government and to lobby for common objectives. By working with them, we can pool resources and maximise our influence, in a shared co-ordinated way, helping us to achieve common objectives.

The BMF is a member of the Construction Leadership Council Taskforce, a formal joint government and industry strategic partnership that strives to create a more resilient industry - with initiatives on (for example) embodied carbon, building safety and digitalisation. The CLC’s work is carried forward by a dozen workstreams - and we actively participate in them, notably:

  • the Materials’ Supply Chain Group (that we chair) monitors the distribution of materials & products to identify goods in short supply - either as demand increases or delays in global trade disrupt well-established supply lines - to manage expectations of construction customers;
  • the Standards & Regulatory Alignment Group helps businesses prepare for UKCA conformity assessment & certification arrangements that will replace CE Marking;
  • the Domestic RMI Group is developing a national retrofit strategy to tackle cold, draughty and poorly-insulated homes and improve their thermal & energy performance.
To learn more about the Construction Leadership Council - and to read the latest Materials’ Supply Chain Group Statement - please visit:  https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/

Consultation 


The BMF provides central government, local authorities and other statutory bodies with coherent, balanced and convincing input to inform strategy, shape policy, allocate funding and test delivery arrangements. New and emerging proposals are screened for unintended consequences, detrimental impacts and inconsistencies. Wrongful assumptions are challenged and wherever possible, we try to give alternative proposals.

The most obvious way is to participate in consultation exercises. Examples of major consultations we responded to are:


Your first point-of-contact is Ben Scobie on (020) 7451 7315 or [email protected]

Current policy issues


Future Homes and Future Buildings Standard (England)

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities has consulted on policy & regulation called the Future Homes Standard (homes) and Future Buildings Standard (commercial & other buildings) to improve thermal & energy performance and to switch to renewable heat.

The main document out of several released - https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/the-future-homes-and-buildings-standards-2023-consultation - is 120 pages and can be found here - although the consultation closed on 27 March 2024.

The majority of ideas relate to new homes and non-residential buildings. This consultation and associated documents lay out technical proposals for changes to the Building Regulations, Approved Documents, and carbon calculation methods. In summary, it means:

  • the performance requirements to ensure new homes and non-residential buildings (a) have high fabric standards; (b) use low-carbon heating and (c) are ‘zero-carbon ready’.
  • improving the minimum standards for fixed building services and on-site electricity generation.
  • improving the guidance and minimum standards for heat loss from building services.

A  A small number of proposals apply to existing buildings notably:

  • improving standards for new dwellings created through a material change of use.
  • improving real-world performance in new homes (as designed) compared to actual energy use.
  • supporting the expansion of clean heat networks.
  • reducing carbon emissions as the primary aim - the secondary aim is lowering energy use.

 

The documents are very technical and aimed primarily at housebuilders & property developers who will be obligated by new regulations. The first consultation occurred between October 2019 and February 2020 that we and many others contributed to. We look forward to the government’s formal response to this consultation.

Clean Heat Market Mechanism (UK-wide)

To force the pace of heat pump take-up, the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero is pursuing a policy to compel boilermakers to meet government targets to sell heat pumps pro-rata to current boiler sales. The original idea was to set a year 1 target of 4% for both gas & oil boilers and a year 2 target of 6% of such boilers. Each unit not sold incurs a £3,000 fine. Sales into new build are not included - only replacement or retrofitting to existing homes is the aim.

But on 14 March 2024, the DESNZ announced that ministers want to defer the launch from 1 April 2024 to 1 April 2025 - and seek views on that by holding a new, short consultation. The quota levels for 2025/2026 (set at 6% of boiler sales) and all other aspects of CHMM implementation will remain as set out previously on 30 November 2023. This consultation can be found here and it consists of two questions only:  https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/clean-heat-market-mechanism-adjustment-to-scheme-introduction-date. BMF plumbing & heating merchants are asked to send views to Brett Amphlett in the BMF London office to help compile a response by the end of April 2024.

Extended Producer Responsibility (UK-wide)

The UK Government is reforming packaging waste regulations to introduce Extended Producer Responsibility from April 2024. The aim is to move from shared responsibility along supply chains to a single point of compliance. EPR shifts the full cost of dealing with packaging waste away from local authorities and Council Taxpayers and onto the primary producers.

EPR began to be phased in from January 2023 with reporting requirements being steadily introduced alongside current packaging waste regs. BMF members will have several obligations prior to full implementation. Our members ought to have started to collect the data in readiness to file their returns. The changes put new legal duties on company directors to take action.

Large producers should open an online account straightaway on the Report Packaging Data Service to start uploading here:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/report-packaging-data.

We are aware of an illogical policy change about intermediaries - namely merchants & distributors. Previously DEFRA or the Environment Agency treated intermediaries as b2b but (for reasons unknown) are now treating them as b2c. Primary or shipment packaging sold via intermediaries must be counted as household waste - even if the end-user is a business - namely builders, contractors and SME trade customers. This is wholly unsatisfactory, and the implications are huge. It has been raised with DEFRA officials and other trade associations like the British Retail Consortium are lobbying ministers to correct this anomality.

EPR: who is affected and what to do:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/extended-producer-responsibility-for-packaging-who-is-affected-and-what-to-do

EPR: what packaging data to collect:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-collect-your-packaging-data-for-extended-producer-responsibility

There is also an EPR Helpdesk available from 08:00 to 16:30, Monday to Friday, on 0300 060 0002 or [email protected]

More work is required - but there are suspicions of delays or rethinking in government departments in London & Edinburgh that add to the prevailing uncertainty for BMF members.

International Sanctions on Russia (UK-wide)

The Department for Business & Trade has tightened the rules on third country processed iron & steel as part of the updated sanctions applied to goods from Russia. Unfortunately, this means extra obligations on BMF members to demonstrate due diligence for imported raw materials - and the resulting administrative burden for audit trails & record-keeping.

For importers, the focus of increased sanctions is HS commodity codes in Chapters 72 & 73 of the UK Integrated Online Tariff found here: https://www.trade-tariff.service.gov.uk/find_commodity

The official DBT guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/notice-to-importers-2953-russia-import-sanctions/guidance-on-third-country-processed-iron-and-steel-measures

This guidance explains that UK companies should have documents to demonstrate evidence of such goods and the supply chain - which must be consistent with the prohibitions under the regulations. This documentation could include:

  • the country of origin of the iron & steel products processed in the third country (or third countries) after the fact.
  • the date that the iron and steel product left its country of origin.
  • the country(s) and facility(s) where processing took place.

Mill Test Certificates are the most obvious example of suitable evidence.

Nutrient Neutrality (England & Wales)

Nutrient neutrality is a well-documented, long-standing and serious issue facing house-builders & property developers following the ‘Dutch N’ court case in the EU a few years ago.

In August 2023, SoS Michael Gove MP revealed plans to legislate to remove an obligation for Natural England to provide advice to local councils against approving new housing where water may be threatened by pollution (esp. illegal sewage discharges). House-builders are wrongly blamed for causing nitrate & phosphate pollution when the vast majority of nutrients in rivers comes from agriculture or failings of water companies. Unfortunately, his announcement was bungled and inaccurate media reports only helped to antagonise (a) wildlife & nature charities and (b) house-builders.

In September 2023, ministers tabled amendments to their Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill in the House of Lords. The aim was to dis-apply consideration of nutrient flows from urban wastewater as part of Habitats Regulations Assessments when deciding whether (or not) to grant planning permission. Ministers met stiff resistance in the Upper House when Labour, Lib Dem, Greens and others like Lord (Zac) Goldsmith voted against the proposals to defeat the Government.

In October 2023, newspapers reported that Downing Street had given up trying to fix this prior to the General Election. The political calculation is that there is insufficient time to push through difficult, legislation before Polling Day. In November 2023, this was confirmed when the King’s Speech was revealed - with no mention of any fresh legislation. This is bitterly disappointing but the BMF and Home Builders Federation continue to lobby nonetheless. The only crumb of comfort is that the current government is unlikely to bungle it again this side of the General Election.

Your first point-of-contact is Brett Amphlett on (020) 7451 7316 or [email protected]

 

Public affairs

Representation


The BMF represents all types of merchants - irrespective of product, turnover or geography. FTSE-listed businesses, mid-sized regionals, and numerous small local independents are members. Manufacturers and specialist suppliers to merchants are also BMF members.

In addition to our own efforts, the BMF channels its members’ views through other bodies we belong to - notably the CBI and two pan-European merchants associations: FEST  https://festassociation.eu/  and UFEMAT  https://www.ufemat.eu/

Visits

Most politicians have little or no grasp of how materials and products reach the end-user. To overcome this, we take them on ministerial or constituency visits to merchants or manufacturers to gain insight into a local business and our supply chain. Such visits are either arranged locally by themselves or by us as part of our lobbying. The aim is to show MPs, MSs or MSPs the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for customers and communities throughout all four home nations.


 

For over 13 years, we have welcomed government ministers, party spokesmen & women, local authority leaders and other elected or appointed members to our members’ branches, showrooms or factories. The gallery above shows a selection of successful visits we arranged.

 Your first point-of-contact is Ben Scobie on (020) 7451 7315 or [email protected]

Parliamentary Reception


The BMF has held receptions in the Houses of Parliament in recent years to showcase excellence in the manufacture and distribution of materials & products. The aim is to engage parliamentarians and explain the role, value and importance of merchants in delivering for local communities. We want to show that our supply chain is integral to improving sustainability and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Our last reception was in November 2023. It attracted 20+ MPs and Peers who met 105 BMF merchants & manufacturers - at which the Minister for Housing & Planning and the Shadow Minister for Roads spoke.

Construction is working hard to play its part in achieving net zero - but the industry we serve has more to do on embodied carbon, operational carbon and transport emissions. At this reception, we were joined by a dozen manufacturers to show the best of British from a selection of our members. They exhibited their materials, products & systems to show what our supply chain offers residential, commercial and public service customers.

Please click here to download your copy of the event brochure.

Your first point-of-contact is Brett Amphlett on (020) 7451 7316 or [email protected]

Publicity

The BMF writes articles and features for its own communications and the trade press to support the activity described on these pages; to answer queries from our members; and to look ahead to ideas & proposals on the horizon that will affect the BMF. This is in addition to the usual press releases.

Some recent examples are:

In addition, we provide smaller pieces for the trade press on a wide range of topics. In the last 15 months, for example, items about:

  • Business Rates exemptions for onsite renewables;
  • competition law and internet privacy;
  • metrication and imperial weights & measures;
  • pressures on land use in London;
  • clean air & zero emission zones in several cities;
  • new Building Regulations for EV charge-points;
  • Extended Producer Responsibility and the WEEE Regulations;
  • zero rate VAT on energy-saving materials;
  • the provision of retirement housing;
  • All-Party or Cross-Party Parliamentary Group meetings.

 

Your first point-of-contact is Ben Scobie on (020) 7451 7315 or [email protected]