The BMF: representing your sector
4 June 2019
of the key roles of the BMF is to raise the profile of our supply chain
to government and outline the role, value and importance of builders
merchants and building material manufacturers so our members’ interests
are reflected in public policy.
It is an unfortunate fact that most politicians have little
understanding of how materials are distributed in order to build homes
and premises for community and commerce. Representing our sector to
government is essential to demonstrate that merchants are the most
efficient route-to-market for these materials.
Since 2015, we have published an annual BMF Policy Outlook setting out
our asks in terms of policy, regulation, tax and spending. The content
of the latest version, published in March this year, is based on a
survey of BMF members. The results helped shaped the content, with
further input from BMF’s Board of Directors and Regional and Forum
BMF Policy Outlook is sent to government ministers, devolved
administrations, elected mayors and local authorities. It both makes the
case for our sector and signals our willingness to work in partnership
on important construction, clean growth and employment policies.
Leading on from this, subsequent consultation responses challenge
wrongful assumptions and, wherever possible give alternative proposals
in favour of our members. Recent examples of this include our responses
to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s Planning
Reform Package, and to Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and
Southampton Councils on Improving Air Quality.
Possibly the most pressing problem is the need to boost output,
employment and education levels in the less-well performing regions. BMF
Policy Outlook represents our input to an ambitious Industrial Strategy
for the trade & retail customers our members serve.
Increasingly, we are arranging face-to-face meetings to reinforce our
messages. Last year we held our first-ever parliamentary reception,
marking the BMF’s landmark anniversary’s 110 years as a trade
association and 40 as a Federation. Attended by 23 MPs and 7 Peers
alongside BMF members, the event saw former Business Secretary Sir Vince
Cable MP speaking at the start with the then Housing Secretary Sajid
Javid MP replying for the Government.
We have taken MPs on a number of constituency visits to gain insight
into local businesses, including Northern Ireland Minister John Penrose
MP to Bradfords Building Supplies in Weston-Super-Mare, Shadow Transport
Secretary, Mary Creagh MP to Howarth Timber in Wakefield, Shadow
Chancellor John McDonnell MP to Lords in West London, as well as Lib Dem
Party Leader, Sir Vince Cable MP to Alsford Timber in Twickenham.
And we always attend the party political conferences of the largest
parties, which provide yet another opportunity to take soundings and to
make our case. In addition to debates and fringe meetings, the BMF
conducts one-to-one talks with MPs, Metro Mayors and other municipal
leaders and party officials on construction, clean grown and employment.
React and respond on legislation
Occasionally, a story hits the headlines requiring the BMF to react
quickly to put our members’ point of view - especially to rebut untrue
stories or correct misleading facts.
In addition, when a topic is debated in parliament, legislation is
considered, or a committee holds an inquiry, we will brief elected
members. In cases of line-by-line scrutiny, it can be quite specific in
nature, for example:
- building materials - notably on brick supplies and acoustic insulation·
- new homes - notably on self- & custom-building and taxpayer-funded support
- planning permission - notably on use classes, permitted development,
pre-commencement conditions, and under-resourced planning departments
- taxation - notably on reduced rates of VAT following a European court case
- vocational training and skills - notably on the new Apprenticeships’ Levy.
Politicians say they value our input because we are a business &
economic voice that speaks for companies in almost every constituency.
You can find out more about BMF’s public affairs work and download the BMF Policy Outlook 2019 here
This article first appeared in the May 2019 edition of Builders Merchants Journal (BMJ)