Elections, Elections, Elections

by Brett Amphlett, BMF Policy & Public Affairs Manager
22 July 2019

Brett AmphlettIt 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.

Brett 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.

The 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 downloaded here.

Representing you

BMF 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.

Economic and 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?


The 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 closing speaker.

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

We 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 our ideas.

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 (Conservative).

MP Constituency Visits

Most 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 merchants.

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.


On 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.


Negotiations 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 construction.

This article first appeared in the summer 2019 edition of One Voice

Find out more about our lobbying for members here