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.
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.
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.