In a damning report from the foreign affairs committee, MPs say the Foreign Office, the National Security Advisor and Ministers must accept responsibility for the failure to prepare or respond, abandoning the UK’s allies and damaging the UK’s interests.
Missing in action: UK leadership and the withdrawal from Afghanistan is the result of the committee’s inquiry into government policy towards the country. The committee considered the role of the Foreign Office in the run up to withdrawal, during the evacuation effort, and in leading engagement with the new regime in the following months. They heard from senior officials; met with Afghans who were evacuated; surveyed MPs’ offices on their efforts to help Afghans; and received written, often sensitive, evidence from a wide range of stakeholders including two Foreign Office whistleblowers.
The MPs’ inquiry found that important policy decisions were made through informal, unaccountable means. Senior officials believed that the Prime Minister played a greater role in some decisions than has been admitted. The committee was not offered a plausible alternative explanation. More seriously, the FCDO provided answers that were intentionally evasive and often deliberately misleading. Government officials should not be expected to obscure the facts to shield others from political accountability.
Today’s report refers to the ‘appalling mismanagement of the crisis’ and the misleading statements to Parliament which followed. Those who lead the Foreign Office should be ashamed that civil servants of great integrity felt compelled to risk their careers to bring the situation to light, says the report. It is the responsibility of the Permanent Under-Secretary to ensure the system operates effectively, leading the committee to conclude that he no longer has their confidence and should consider his position.
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The report urges the UK government to commit to a serious strategy for future engagement with Afghanistan. The failure to do so would abandon women and girls in the single biggest reversal of rights in a generation.
The committee calls on the government to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan as soon as it is safe to do so, and to work with those on the ground who can support civil society. Attempts to isolate the new regime entirely may only hurt the Afghan people and leave a vacuum to be filled by China.
The Taliban have outlawed any Uyghur “militants” within their territory. Around 1 million Uyghur Muslims are estimated to be imprisoned in Chinese “re-education” camps, where they are subject to human rights violations.
Today’s foreign affairs committee report argues that humanitarian aid alone will not be enough to avert catastrophe and that the UK should aim to resume development aid when possible, placing Afghan women at the heart of its policy towards the country.
The UN World Food Program say up to 20 million people in Afghanistan are in desperate need of food following drought, the impact of the pandemic and the slashing of foreign aid after the Taliban takeover.
Foreign affairs committee chair, Tom Tugendhat MP, said: “The UK’s part in this tragedy exposes a lack of seriousness in achieving co-ordination, a lack of clear decision-making, a lack of leadership and a lack of accountability. At a time when we face critical foreign policy challenges, and the risks to our lives and economy are so serious, including from the current energy and inflation pressures, our diplomacy and security cannot be so confused and unstructured. Unity of purpose, clarity and coordination require serious intent and consistent political leadership.
“The timeline of misery exposed by this report reveals serious systemic failures at the heart of the UK’s foreign policy. The absence of the FCDO’s top leadership – ministerial and official – when Kabul fell is a grave indictment on those supposedly in charge. While junior officials demonstrated courage and integrity, chaotic and arbitrary decision-making runs through this inquiry. Sadly, it may have cost many people the chance to leave Afghanistan, putting lives in danger. The integrity of the Civil Service depends on those leading these organisations showing the courage to tell the truth to the British people.
“There are many heroes in this story who worked under enormous pressures. The military and civilian personnel on the ground in Afghanistan, and many in the FCDO itself, during the evacuation and those who helped from afar deserve our thanks. Now, Afghanistan faces a terrible humanitarian crisis with 23 million people at risk of starvation and the rights of women and girls have faced their greatest reversal in a generation. All this while the threat from extremism has grown. We need a serious rethink in the heart of the UK government to combine diplomacy, aid and trade in a concerted and strategic approach to future policy towards Afghanistan.”
A government spokesman said following the report’s release: “Our staff worked tirelessly to evacuate over 15,000 people from Afghanistan within a fortnight. This was the biggest UK mission of its kind in generations and followed months of intensive planning and collaboration between UK government departments. We are still working hard to assist the people of Afghanistan, having already helped over 4,600 individuals to leave the country since the end of the military evacuation.
“We carried out a thorough review to learn lessons from our withdrawal from Afghanistan and have drawn on many of the findings in our response to the conflict in Ukraine including introducing new systems for managing correspondence and increasing senior oversight of our operational and diplomatic response.”
Tips for Starting a Home Contracting Business
Given that there are so many homeowners out there looking to renovate, there’s never been a better time to launch a business as a home contractor. If you’ve got experience and expertise in a particular trade, or in a whole range of them, then you stand an excellent chance of success in the field. Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you to get the best from your fledgeling contracting business.
Provide the best possible service
Your most potent and valuable marketing tool is the high esteem of your existing customers. Impress them, and they’ll recommend you to friends and family. Fail to impress them, and you won’t. For this reason, it’s essential that you take excellence seriously.
If you charge too much for your services, then you’ll find that your customers are repelled. Charge too little, and you won’t be able to make a profit – or even break even. If your prices fluctuate later on, then you might be perceived as flaky and unreliable. To avoid this, do your research ahead of time and know exactly how much you’re going to be charging.
Reduce your costs
You should be proactively looking to monitor your costs. Where possible, you should reduce them, too. You might do this by maintaining good relations with your suppliers, and attempting to secure a discount for loyalty. Identify the materials you need, and stick with them.
To keep costs low you should source plywood in higher quantities. Make sure that you have somewhere you can store it flat. It might be that you can get away with the thinner 12mm plywood rather than the standard 18mm stuff – especially if the wood in question is not going to be bearing loads.
While your contracting business is going to be a hands-on, physical one, you should still maintain a presence online. This will allow you to keep yourself visible to your would-be clients, respond to feedback, and directly promote your services to those who might need them. As time goes by, businesses that fail to maintain an online presence may find themselves increasingly left behind.
Hiring and Training Employees
To start with, your business might just involve one or two people. But as you expand, you might look to bring in hired help. The people you bring in will carry the reputation of your business, so it’s vital that you implement the right hiring process, and that you provide the right training. This means knowing exactly which questions to ask potential recruits, and what instruction is required to bring them up to standard. Don’t just do this off the cuff – figure out the stages in advance. That way, when you later to come to entrust the process to other people, you’ll have it ready to go.
Discover the Latest News on Leaseholders Protection, UK Construction Inflation, Construction Workers Needed, BDO’s New Head of Real Estate and Construction
In this post, we’ll talk about how the government’s building safety reforms shield leaseholders from unfair cladding charges, Turner & Townsend predicts that inflation in UK construction could be on the rise, the construction industry will require roughly a quarter of a million additional jobs by 2026 and it’s been announced that BDO has hired a new director for real estate and construction.
Building safety reforms safeguard leaseholders from unfair cladding charges
The Building Safety Act 2022 will safeguard leaseholders from unjustified bills to make their homes safe.
Today, the Building Safety Act 2022 protects leaseholders against unjustified bills to make their homes safe (28 June 2022).
Owners and those responsible for prior safety flaws must fund repairs.
45 of the UK’s major homebuilders have agreed to address life-critical fire-safety flaws on all 11-metre-plus properties they have developed or refurbished in the last 30 years.
The legislation gives the Secretary of State new authority to restrict reckless developers’ capacity to build new homes, extends the Building Safety levy by an estimated £3 billion, and improves building owners’ rights to sue developers.
Michael Gove said:
“Today marks a major turning point for building safety in this country, as we introduce a tough new regime to make homes safe and help rid the sector of bad practice once and for all.
“Hundreds of thousands of innocent leaseholders now have the legal protection they rightly deserve, freeing them from a financial burden they should never have faced.
“I’m pleased that most of the largest developers have agreed to play their part in solving this.
“But there is more to do – we are focusing intensively on work with lenders to unlock the mortgage market and empower leaseholders to take their next step on the property ladder, and we will remain vigilant if anyone fails to act on the pledges they have made.”
We are working with lenders to open the mortgage market and allow leaseholders to take their next step on the housing ladder, and we will stay alert if anyone fails to act on their assurances.
The Secretary of State has written to freeholders to announce that leaseholders would no longer be charged for building safety maintenance. The letter reminds freeholders that qualifying leaseholders now have legal cost safeguards and that circumventing them is illegal.
The letter reminded them of their new responsibilities under the Act, including updating fire risk assessments to incorporate proportionality recommendations.
Freeholders or owners of buildings over 18m with cladding issues must have full evaluations ready to submit to the Building Safety Fund, which will reopen for new applications soon, helping to guarantee applications can be addressed in good time, minimising leaseholder disturbance and stress.
Leaseholders must be kept informed. If they don’t, authorities can force them to remediate their buildings and pay the costs.
A new Professional Insurance Indemnity Scheme has also been signed. This will assist assessors undertake EWS1 evaluations to identify fire safety hazards, allowing professionals to make informed decisions and restore common sense and proportionality to the market.
Today, the following Act protections will go into effect to safeguard leaseholders:
Leaseholders in buildings over 11 metres tall or 5 stories will be safeguarded from exorbitant building safety charges for the first time.
Leaseholders with up to 3 UK properties will be safeguarded from the costs of removing hazardous cladding. They will also be protected from non-cladding defect costs, including waking watches.
Freeholders cannot pass on the expense of historical building repairs or cladding removal to leaseholders, including non-qualifying leaseholders, if they are or are associated to the building’s developer.
Freeholders who pass the wealth criteria can’t pass on historical building safety expenditures to eligible leaseholders.
Where a developer cannot be held accountable and the building owner is not compelled to cover all costs, leaseholders with non-cladding related issues will be safeguarded by a cost cap. The cap only applies to non-cladding related work for properties worth more than £325,000 (London) and £175,000 outside London (owners of properties below this ceiling will pay nothing). Shared ownership leaseholders’ caps reflect their property ownership.
Building owners and landlords must cover any expenditures not recovered from lessees.
Under a new initiative from the New Homes Ombudsman, homebuyers may hold developers accountable for safety and quality issues.
Act provisions include:
New powers for the Secretary of State to restrict irresponsible developers’ capacity to build new houses, including if they fail to rectify life-critical fire safety problems on all 11-metre-plus buildings they developed or refurbished in the last 30 years.
All new residential buildings should pay the Building Safety Levy. This will fund a new government scheme to remove dangerous cladding from 11-18m buildings if the developer cannot be found or refuses to pay upfront.
Enhanced civil liability for building owners, allowing them to sue developers, contractors, and manufacturers for faulty construction and defective items that made residences uninhabitable in the past 30 years.
Extra rights to go against affiliated corporations in England and Wales. Businesses hiding behind shell corporations can now be pursued for payment.
These new legislation will empower the government to pursue these corporations through a new Recovery Unit in the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities.
Building standards and common sense
New laws will enforce higher building standards, making houses safer and ensuring a proportionate approach to safety.
A new Building Safety Regulator will enforce a stricter regulatory regime on the safety and performance of high-rise buildings in England. A new Residents’ Panel will respond to residents’ safety concerns.
A National Regulator for Construction Products will strengthen UK producers’ standards. This new regulator will perform market monitoring to discover and eliminate harmful materials faster and take action against rulebreakers.
Turner & Townsend warns of UK construction inflation
Turner & Townsend warns developers that UK construction inflation may harm planned projects due to workforce shortages, Brexit, and the Ukraine crisis.
The International Construction Market Survey (ICMS) for 2022 cautions that inflation is unlikely to abate in most of the 88 locations surveyed.
London is the most costly city to develop in the UK and tenth globally, down from third in 2019. Costs are $3,910 (£2,973) per sqm.
The report shows rising UK building inflation in regional cities, which could undermine government efforts to balance the country through public and private investment.
Leeds’ cost escalation is expected to reach 10% this year, up from 5% in 2021. Significant investment in build-to-rent and student accommodation are driving this expansion.
London, Manchester, and Birmingham all forecast inflation of 9.0% in 2022, somewhat behind Leeds.
Edinburgh and Glasgow are expected to have the lowest cost escalation of the UK’s big cities, but both face 7.5% inflation this year.
UK labour shortages persist
In March to May 2022, the ONS recorded 1.3 million job openings, up from 765,000 a year earlier.
Turner & Townsend data reveals average UK labour expenses are $44.19 (£33.60) per hour and $52.28 (£39.75) in London.
High demand for ‘green collar’ employees as government and corporations chase net zero targets makes solar power, heat pumps, and insulation installation expensive. In London, their hourly rate is $68.39 (£52.00).
The crisis in Ukraine and the difficulties of coordinating cross-border trade with the EU continue to complicate supply chain challenges following the outbreak.
In Manchester, the cost of brick has risen 11.3% to $789 (£600) per 1,000 units, while in Leeds the price of structural steel has risen 43.3% to $3,946 (£3,000) per tonne.
Brexit and the Ukraine war have exacerbated supply chain strains
London still has the highest construction prices in the UK, according to Turner & Townsend’s Martin Sudweeks.
This reflects significant demand for new commercial and public sector development after the epidemic and continued supply chain pressures from Brexit and the Ukraine crisis.
Regional cities also suffer price hikes. This is especially noticeable in Leeds due to build-to-rent buildings and student housing investment.
“With inflation anticipated to grow in all major UK markets this year, firms will need to focus on cautious planning, ensuring contracts are pragmatically constructed to take into account potential price rises and share risk when appropriate. In-depth supply chain analysis and good supplier relationships will help mitigate inflation.
Supply chain disruption affects costs and plans
Neil Bullen, global managing director of Real Estate Turner & Townsend, said, “We confront headwinds in the global construction business and the international economy.”
“The interconnectedness of markets is apparent than ever as labour shortages, demand surpassing availability, and supply chain disruptions damage costs and plans.
Companies must develop a global view of their construction supply chains to manage unpredictability in upcoming months.
“Clients must also manage other critical concerns, such as the push to net zero, as expectations and standards for green capabilities and sustainably produced products increase. Unplanned and poorly handled relocation might exacerbate stress. Success in handling global challenges will depend on enterprises innovating in procurement, delivery, and project management.
Construction requires roughly a quarter-million extra workers by 2026
Original Source: Construction needs over a quarter of a million extra workers by 2026
More than a quarter-million extra construction employees would be needed by 2026, a CSN analysis says.
The research shows that the built environment needs 266,000 new workers over the next four years, or 53,000 every year.
Carpenters, joiners, and construction managers are in demand, as are technicians and office personnel.
If industry growth projections hold, 2.78m construction workers would be needed by 2026.
Tim Balcon, chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), says the sector must “attract and retain top people” but admits meeting the skills demand will be a “big problem.”
The construction workforce expanded by 1.2% between January and March, from 2.16m (October-December 2021) to 2.18m workers.
CITB’s annual projection predicts growing demand in private homes, infrastructure, and repair and maintenance. This would require more personnel, it claimed.
Greater London will need 26,000 additional workers by 2026, while the South East will need 23,000. These two regions have the highest predicted construction outputs in the UK. To meet demand, the South West must hire 41,950 people, or over 8,000 every year.
Balcon added, “Construction is the UK’s backbone.” After the pandemic’s slowdown, these growth estimates are positive.
Higher energy costs, supply shortages, and inflation are hurting companies across the sector.
He said the sector had a lot to offer potential recruits, with professions ranging from trainee to CEO.
Balcon: “Training paths into the sector will be a focus, and we must recruit and retain under-represented groups, especially women and ethnic minorities.” The industry must evolve to fulfil its untapped potential for the national economy and our global competitiveness.
The research notes that a “pickup” in construction work in 2021 increased job vacancies and skills shortages. With fewer EU nationals in construction, the research proposed enterprises boost their teams by:
Attracting new recruits into the workforce from individuals leaving school, further education, apprenticeships, or higher education improves worker retention.
The CITB’s Business Plan promises “more accessible routes” into construction. It will focus on apprenticeships, onsite experience, and occupational traineeships in FE.
BDO appoints real estate and construction new head
Original Source: BDO names new head of real estate and construction
Hira Sharma will become BDO’s national head of real estate on 4 July.
Geraint Jones is leaving after two years.
London real estate and construction tax partner Sharma. He advises institutional funds, REITs, and sovereign wealth investors.
Sharma: “While many of our real estate and construction clients have been extremely robust during the epidemic, quickly changing macro-economic conditions provide distinct and difficult problems.”
I look forward to leading our team to help real estate and construction clients manage these problems and seize new investment possibilities.
BDO’s real estate team comprises over 300 professionals advising on UK and worldwide assurance, tax, and transactional concerns. The firm works with worldwide investors and privately held, entrepreneurial real estate and construction enterprises.
Overall, we have discussed the protection of leaseholders from unfair cladding charges as the government’s building safety standards take effect and the possibility of a spike in UK construction inflation, according to Turner & Townsend. By 2026, the construction industry will require roughly a quarter of a million additional jobs. Hira Sharma has been named as the new real estate and construction head of BDO. Keep checking back for additional updates on construction news.
BME parents support stop and search for drugs
New polling commissioned by the Civitas think tank concluded that almost 6 million people would try cannabis for the first time if it were legalised.
Calls by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to legalise cannabis would lead to an extra 800,000 Londoners taking up cannabis for the first time, the biggest surge in new cannabis users anywhere in the country.
Deltapoll asked 4,451 UK adults about their cannabis use with a second poll asking 1,029 UK parents about their attitudes to cannabis. Both polls are nationally representative and give a true picture of public opinion.
It found that one million young adults aged 18 to 24 said they would try cannabis for the first time if the UK legalised cannabis.
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More than 1.5 million parents of primary school children would take up cannabis if it were legalised.
Seven in ten parents back police using stop and search tactics to take cannabis off the streets, a figure that was even higher for black and minority ethnic parents at 8 in 10.
1 in 3 parents told pollsters that ordering cannabis was as “easy as ordering a Pizza” with London and Scotland the easiest places to get hold of cannabis in the UK.
7 in 10 black and minority ethnic parents want the police to get tougher on cannabis use among under 18s.
Just over half (53 per cent) of all parents support legalising cannabis in line with most polls of the public.
However, almost half of parents back schools calling the police if cannabis use is suspected among pupils. Black and minority ethnic parents are the most supportive of schools bringing the police into schools.
4 in 10 parents think schools should routinely test and search pupils for cannabis with half of black and minority ethnic parents saying the same.
Only 8 per cent of parents said the move would stop drug dealers from targeting young people.
Calculations based on the think tank’s large-scale poll of almost 4,500 UK adults found that 5.85 million adults who have not used cannabis in the last ten years would try it if it were legalised.
Frank Young, editorial director at Civitas and author of the report said: “This poll tells us that parents want the police and politicians to start getting tough on cannabis use and that calls to legalise cannabis are way off the mark. Do we need a million new young people taking cannabis and six million new users across the country?
“Parents are worried that politicians rushing to legalise drugs will make their job harder and put their children at risk. British parents are telling them they want the police to be out there using stop and search to take drugs off the streets,” he went on.
Former London mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey argued that “this is the moment parents fight back against politicians” aiming to legalise drugs.
“But let’s not lose sight of the central finding here; just like the wider population, the majority of British parents want cannabis legalised and properly regulated.
“In our current system, drug dealers don’t ask kids for ID, teens are caught up in county lines gangs and cannabis-related criminal records ruin the life prospects of young people. Far from being caught up in a rush to legalise, politicians are lagging behind the public to the detriment of us all.”
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