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BWF Comment on £1 billion Building Safety Fund

Speaking on budget announcements made on 11 March 2020 and on the introduction of a building safety fund, Helen Hewitt, CEO of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) said: “We welcome the government’s commitment to a £1bn building safety fund which will allow urgent work to be undertaken to make the UK’s housing safer. However, in order to safeguard millions of people, funding must also include provision for the replacement of fire doors as well as cladding removal.

“We know that a significant number of councils in the UK have yet to replace inadequate fire doors, and that a number of doors still in use do not satisfy the 30-minute burn time standard.  This means that people remain at risk of fires spreading through the buildings they live in. The Government must support local authorities in replacing fire doors by providing central funding, and by giving clear and unambiguous guidance on fire door specification, maintenance and testing.”

On homebuilding stimulus packages (including social housing interest rate cuts, and funding for brownfield site building), Helen Hewitt added:

“Measures announced by the Chancellor today are an important boost to UK housebuilding, and presents a number of opportunities for the woodworking and joinery manufacturing sector which produces integral components including windows, doors and staircases. Using timber construction products the UK has an opportunity to become a sustainable construction global leader in the post-Brexit economy. Plus, there are associated cost savings across the lifespan of the buildings. Research from the Wood Window Alliance has showed that wood window frames made to their specification have an average life span of 60 years; that’s double that of their PVCu equivalents.”

On the £1.5bn funding boost to improve the condition of further education colleges, Helen said: “Our members look forward to contributing to the refurbishment of further education buildings and, as with housebuilding, there is a major opportunity for the UK to lead the way in the use of sustainable building products including timber.

“The investment in further education will also provide a boost to building provision in certain skilled trades, and support vital education and apprenticeship programmes that help develop the skills that are so vitally needed in the woodworking sector. We look forward to engaging in the National Skills Fund consultation in the spring, to help the Government and our industry tackle the ongoing skills shortage within the construction industry.”

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