Reflections on my First 3 Months as INCA Manager

Anna Wesson, INCA Manager

During the last three months as INCA Manager, it has been a busy time at the Trade Association. I have learned a lot about EWI, and I am looking forward to a busy New Year.

The INCA Awards

I was fortunate enough to join INCA just before the Awards in October. As the jewel in the INCA crown, it was the best possible way to get amongst our members and understand more about what INCA means to them. What I learned is that the EWI sector is run by passionate people, who have seen a storm or two, and know how to weather them.

Meeting Stakeholders

Alongside talking to members (which Mitch Gee and I have been doing recently), engaging with stakeholders has been a priority. We have been liaising with the Industry Response Group who are looking into the fire at Grenfell Tower. We know that the fire has had a huge impact on the industry, and we are keen to work with those investigating the way that construction responds. Other stakeholders we have been meeting include the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the British Board of Agrément (BBA). The potential for INCA to influence and develop existing relationships is exciting, and something we will continue to focus on as we go into 2018.

Working with Build UK

You may know that INCA is a member of Build UK. This is a critical relationship, and one that gives INCA a much stronger voice in the construction sector than it would otherwise have. For instance, Build UK is working to eliminate retentions by 2023, a project which will no doubt impact many INCA members. In another work stream, Build UK is addressing some of the issues of pre-qualification, and putting a more robust, simplified model in its place. Being part of Build UK doubtless makes INCA stronger, and INCA can contribute to its work for the benefit of members.

Growth for 2018

As we get into the last month of 2017, I want to share with you how excited I am for the next 12 months. The potential for INCA to grow in strength and reputation is enormous. Our strategy for that time period will go before the Board for discussion later this month, and when it is finalised, it will be shared with all our members.

If you have any questions, comments, or would like to discuss the benefits of membership, please get in touch. I look forward to hearing from you.


Getting a Members’ Perspective

INCA members perspective on EWI

Mitch Gee, Executive Chairman

Since taking up my position as Executive Chairman and Anna joining as INCA Manager, we have been canvassing our members. We wanted to hear your views of the industry, and the expectations you have from the association.

The conversation has tended to centre on a number of key issues:

The decline in the ECO market and the impact this is having on members’ business

We are dealing with legacy issues due to the way that CESP and the early part of ECO were delivered, much of it by contractors with no history in the industry, and some of it on properties that were inadequately prepared for external wall insulation. There has been much reminiscing of the ‘good old days’ of external wall insulation, where a more holistic, envelope approach to housing refurbishment was taken. At this time, whole estates were completely regenerated rather than trying to insulate external walls at the lowest cost possible. Like in most things in life, you get what you pay for.

INCA promotes a holistic approach to external wall insulation. ECO funding needs to be combined with other sources of funding, creative forms of finance such as green finance but also capital investment. This will breathe new life into ageing housing estates, adding a further 60 years of life expectancy to houses built in the 30’s and 40’s. The good news is that the government is starting to think this way, with the Chancellor announcing £400 million for regeneration of housing estates. It is INCA’s intention to promote some of these heritage projects that were installed over 20 years ago, which are still performing well and looking good. If you are aware of any projects that you were involved in over a decade ago, please let us know and we will work with you to produce a case study.

The introduction of large scale funding into our industry with CESP and ECO created an unnatural surge. Many companies came up on the wave, but unfortunately we are now suffering as it recedes. We do not wish to become dependent on grants. Our products and services have merit in their own right, they do not need to be given away free of charge. That is not to say there is not a place for funding, but it needs to be used in combination with other ‘sticks and carrots’ that government can provide. We want to create sustainable growth within our industry and start to make a meaningful dent in the 6 million solid wall homes that need insulating.

Quality

We are all keen to continually promote quality, the question is how this can be done? INCA will be looking at membership criteria and what can be done in this area to drive up quality. We will also consider working more closely with the guarantee agencies who are well placed to enforce quality.

Grenfell Tower Tragedy

The tragic Grenfell disaster, and its impact on our industry cannot be ignored. Social housing landlords are faced with huge costs to ensure their high-rise building are fire safe. This uncertainty has resulted in delays and shelving of projects in the short term. In the medium term it could result in more work for the industry as inadequate external wall and cladding systems are replaced. As members of Build UK, INCA are at the forefront of the construction Industry Response Group that has been set up by government to help ensure the sector meets the challenges following the Grenfell tower fire. Build UK are one of only 3 industry bodies that form this group. We will share with members the discussions and outcome of these meetings.

Retentions

Build UK are also at the forefront of the Government Consultation on the Practice of ‘Cash Retention under Construction,’ which impacts the whole industry, particularly specialist sub-contractors. INCA’s association with Build UK helps to amplify our voice.

BBA and Wind Load Guidance

We have been working with the BBA to improve quality in the industry and mitigate the risks of failure from wind suction. Though the BBA have the best intentions for our industry, their approach to this is issue has been problematic in terms of public relations. They are keen to make amends and want a strong vibrant quality led industry just as much as us. We have made it clear to achieve this they must work with us not against us.

I am confident that INCA is beginning to get its voice back and hope I can rely on your support as we move forward. Please respond to any of the issues raised. It is difficult to be focused and accommodate everyone’s opinion but it is important that all opinions are heard so please get in touch.


Being a Member of Build UK

Anna Wesson, INCA Manager

As you may know, INCA is a member of Build UK. This is the Trade Association that represents over 40% of the construction industry in the UK.

There are lots of benefits to being a member of Build UK. It is an association with a lot of influence, working on some really important projects that affect the whole of the sector. External Wall Insulation (EWI) is no exception – Build UK projects do, and will affect your work.

In order to give a flavour of some of the work that Build UK does, here is a summary of two of the major projects:

Pre-qualification

It is widely recognised that currently the pre-qualification system is a bureaucratic and repetitive process. The construction industry need a method of pre-qualification that meets the needs of clients and other stakeholders and is beneficial to the construction supply chain. Build UK aims to deliver this. This ambitious project is due to deliver in summer 2018.

Retentions

It isn’t news that fair and transparent payment practices are essential for a successful construction industry. Getting it right means having a strong and sustainable supply chain capable of meeting clients’ needs.

Build UK is bringing together the contracting supply chain to consider what best payment practice in construction looks like. Clearly that means looking into alternatives to the current retentions practice, and getting all parts of construction involved in coming up with and taking on alternative practices. The potential when this lands is huge, and will impact the EWI industry. Being a Build UK member gives INCA members the opportunity to shape policy and be at the forefront of implementing it.

Get Involved

Build UK needs your help as Trade Association members for these projects to meet your needs. There is huge opportunity to get involved on committees, through conversations with the team, or through feeding back through INCA. As INCA Manager, I will keep you updated over the coming months with how the projects progress.

Let me know what you think: where should INCA be using its influence? What do you care about most?