Elections, Elections, Elections
by Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy & Public Affairs Manager
22 July 2019
is two years since the General Election and two months since the Local
Government Elections. In London, politicians are looking back at the
40th anniversary of Mrs Thatcher’s 1979 General Election win and her
election as the first female Prime Minister. A good time to take stock
of what the BMF is doing for you
and what comes next.
Amphlett, BMF Policy & Public Affairs
Manager, describes several
aspects of his advocacy. At the time of writing, the European Parliament
Elections have not yet been held, so you can be forgiven for not
wanting to read about Brexit (again). ...
What is the aim?
Our aim as your trade association is to:
- raise the profile to parliaments and governments - and outline the role, value and importance of merchants and manufacturers
- demonstrate how the BMF works to ensure our voice is heard, so that your interests are reflected in public policy.
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is our
sponsoring department. The Industrial Strategy and the Construction
Sector Deal are the main policies. The BMF responded to the Industrial
Strategy consultation in April 2017 and we have spoken to DBEIS
ministers on more than one occasion since then.
What do we want?
Four years ago, we realised we had no single document that said what we
want. In September 2015, we developed our first “BMF Policy Outlook”.
The latest version was published on 25 March 2019.
“BMF Policy Outlook
sets out our asks in terms of policy, regulation, tax and spending.
They were based on a survey of members last summer. The findings shaped
the content that was refined with the BMF Board of Directors, Regional
Chairmen and Forum Chairmen. Thank you to everyone who wrote in with
praise or constructive criticism.
“BMF Policy Outlook
is being sent to the Government, Devolved Administrations, Metro-Mayors
and local authorities. It has arrived on the desk of the Prime
Minister, Construction Minister, Housing Minister and Energy Minister.
Copies are going to Party Leaders, Opposition Spokesmen/Women,
Parliamentary Committees and the House of Lords. Copies can be
representation is essential because construction is fragmented, without
one voice or a unified view. We provide the perspective because
merchants are the most efficient route-to-market for goods from
quarries, sawmills, brickworks and factories.
political commentators (including the Bank of England) forecast that
most regions will suffer an economic shock after leaving the EU.
Notwithstanding Brexit, the most pressing problem is the need to boost
output, employment and education levels in less-well performing regions,
compared to London and the South East.
While many of our
members were in Dubrovnik, enjoying the BMF All-Industry Conference,
Treasury Ministers were preparing for the Spending Review due later this
year. The last one, in autumn 2015, allocated £4 trillion of taxpayers’
money for the five years until March 2020. Civil servants will be
busily preparing bids - against the Prime Minister’s promise that “the
end of austerity is in sight”, leaving the Chancellor to work out how
(and which) public services will receive more money.
What are we doing?
BMF held its first ever parliamentary reception last year to mark our
110th anniversary as a trade association and 40th anniversary as the
BMF. Former Business Secretary Sir Vince Cable MP spoke at the start,
with Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid MP replying for the Government as
At the end of October, we are planning
another parliamentary event
to showcase excellence in the manufacture of
building materials and home improvement products. The emphasis is on
innovation and applied manufacturing to show politicians how BMF members
develop low-carbon solutions and improve product performance.
Party Political Conferences
attend the autumn conferences of the main parties to do our lobbying -
especially to Metro-Mayors and Local Authority leaders. In addition to
debates and fringe meetings, the BMF conducts one to one talks with MPs,
councillors and party officials to understand their thinking and pitch
In the 9 years since we began this lobbying, the
BMF has earned the right to be heard. We enjoy good relations with
elected members who take us seriously because they recognise the BMF
represents about 85% of the merchant market. In three months’ time, we
will be in Bournemouth (Lib Dems), Brighton (Labour) and Manchester
MP Constituency Visits
politicians have little or no grasp of how materials and products arrive
at the end user. To overcome this, we take them to visit merchants or
manufacturers in their constituency to gain insight into a local
business. Politicians appreciate these visits and they support the “BMF
Policy Outlook” in helping to explain the role, value and importance of
For example, we successfully completed visits by:
- Northern Ireland Minister John Penrose MP to Bradfords Building Supplies
- Brexit Select Committee Chairman Hilary Benn MP to Howarth Timber
- Lib Dem Leader Sir Vince Cable MP to Alsford Timber
- Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP to Lords Builders Merchant.
More visits are being arranged this summer in Yorkshire, East Anglia, London and elsewhere.
a daily basis, Whitehall puts out proposals for public consultation.
For those directly relevant to BMF members, we provide coherent and
balanced input to government. Wrongful assumptions are challenged and
wherever possible, we give alternative proposals.
Examples of recent responses:
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government - Planning Reform Package
- Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton Councils - Improving Air Quality
- Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - Packaging Producer Responsibility.
to leave the EU are complex and difficult, and getting it wrong has
serious, far-reaching consequences for the markets BMF members serve.
But in our dealings with politicians, we continue to urge MPs and
Ministers to look forward to life after Brexit and take action to boost
productivity in a steady, stable manner, so you can trade and prosper.
The BMF firmly believes a key driver of economic development is
a resilient, functioning and enduring supply chain like ours that
(literally) delivers for local communities. That is why we do what we do
to influence in our advocacy as the fourth largest trade association in
This article first appeared in the summer 2019 edition of One Voice
Find out more about our lobbying for members here