Queens Speech – 11th May 2021

A new session of Parliament opened today, with the Queen’s Speech setting out 25 pieces of legislation the Government plans to pass in the next year. Securing the recovery from the pandemic will be the priority, followed by ‘levelling up’ – aiming to invest in projects and services across every part of the UK to spread economic growth. We extracted the following bills and initiatives which might be relevant to your company’s work (quotes taken from the full briefing on the Speech):

 

  • Building Safety Bill, so far published in draft form but not introduced, which will “strengthen the regulatory system for building safety [including establishing the Building Safety Regulator], changing the industry culture and introducing rigorous safety standards for construction products and a clearer path to redress for homeowners”
  • Planning Bill to modernise and speed up the planning system, which will also “simplify and enhance the EU derived framework of environmental assessments for developments”. It aims to establish “a framework which focuses on positive outcomes, such as environmental opportunities and better designed places”
  • Renters’ Reform Bill to enhance the rights of tenants, including a lifetime tenancy deposit model, a right to redress for all tenants to improve standards and exploring the merits of a landlord register; a White Paper will come first.
  • Environment Bill to “set legally binding targets, restore nature and biodiversity, tackle air pollution, establish an independent Office for Environmental Protection, cut plastic use and revolutionise how we recycle”. This will include “protecting nature by mandating ‘biodiversity net gain’ in the planning system, ensuring new houses are not built at the expense of nature and delivering thriving natural spaces for communities.”
  • Skills and Post-16 Education Bill: A lifetime skills guarantee means student loans will be available to anyone without A Levels who wants to study at their local further education college, at any point in their life.
  • Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill: establish ARIA “as a new statutory corporation to fund high-risk, high-reward R&D.”
  • National Infrastructure Plan: “Investing in and improving infrastructure across the Union” including the UK Infrastructure Bank which “will provide financing support to private sector and local authority infrastructure projects across the UK… It will be able to deploy £12 billion of equity and debt capital and £10 billion of guarantees and is expected to support more than £40 billion of infrastructure investment overall.”
  • Procurement Bill to simplify procurement in the public sector after Brexit, including “embedding transparency throughout the commercial lifecycle from planning to procurement… Making UK procurement rules more modern, flexible, innovative and diverse, by allowing the Government to consider wider social value when picking suppliers so that taxpayers’ money goes further and has more of a wider benefit for society

 

Her Majesty said “My Government will invest in new green industries to create jobs, while protecting the environment”, but this seems to refer to previous announcements like the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution published in November. The Heat and Buildings Strategy and the “comprehensive Net Zero Strategy” are simply described as “forthcoming”.

To read more from the Queens Speech please click here

CLC & HSE – IT’S TIME FOR US ALL TO TALK ABOUT WORK-RELATED STRESS

The Health & Safety Executive has joined forces with the Construction Leadership Council to encourage the whole industry to start a conversation about employee stress.
The past 12 months have placed unprecedented strains on workers as companies have adopted new ways of working in response to the pandemic. This builds on some of the already recognised stresses of working in the complex construction working environment.

The Health & Safety Executive has moved to make sure that every business has the support it needs to look after its employees. It has published Talking Toolkit; a guide on how to prevent work related stress in construction.

Now the Construction Leadership Council is encouraging all businesses from across the industry to put their guide into the hands of their teams, inspiring better conversations to identify and manage stress for construction employees.

HSE chief inspector of construction Sarah Jardine said: “We have worked with industry partners to develop the toolkit, which specifically homes in on the particular work-related stress challenges that may be experienced by those working in construction. Stress, depression and anxiety are the second biggest cause of ill-health in the sector, so tackling them offers the chance to make a real difference to thousands working in the sector”

Construction Leadership Council co-chair Andy Mitchell said “While the industry has made an outstanding effort to protect employees from the effects of the pandemic in the last year, it is all too clear that workers continue to be at risk from work-related stress. The Talking Toolkit offers free, practical help developed by experts to help release pressure from the workplace. The CLC strongly encourages everyone to pick up a copy.

Talking Toolkit is available here