A word in your ear, Dr Cable

20 June 2012

Armed with a BWF Policy Manifesto and flanked by BWF President Roy Wakeman OBE, our Vice President, David Pattenden and Executive Committee member Cliff Thrumble, the BWF Chief Executive, Iain McIlwee, headed for Westminster last week to attend a reception hosted by the Construction Products Association.

The reception was supported by more than 30 politicians, representing both Parliament and the House of Lords including Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Iain Wright , the Shadow Construction Minister, Andrew Stunnell, Minister for Communities and Local Government, Greg Barker, Minister of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change and Charles Kennedy, former leader of the Lib Dems.

In the speeches, Dr Vince Cable recognised the significance of construction products and emphasised that Britain built its way out of a recession in the 1930s and could do so again, however, it has to be said the our Business Skills Secretary, as with other political speeches scored high on rhetoric and low on solutions led policy, a point not missed in the response by CPA Chairman Bill Bolsover.  Mr Bolsover took the opportunity to emphasise that the construction products industry has a turnover of £50 billion, it employs 500,000, - it is a wealth creator.  The sector is five times the size of the automotive market and more than twice the size of the aerospace sector, yet these sectors still tend to be at the forefront of our legislators minds when championing manufacturing.  The woodworking sector stands proud within this community accounting for around 10% of the total market.

Mr Bolsover also emphasised the importance of using construction to drive economic growth, led by restructuring the budget to better support capital expenditure, a mechanism also supported by the IMF.

The event was a great embodiment of the wider sector in which we work and underpinned why we maintain membership of the CPA on your behalf.  Every BWF Member is a member of the CPA and can through this access a range of support services, including fantastic market data.  The CPA is a powerful lobbying group and the reception gave opportunity to drive home some of the important facts about the sector.  As well as networking with the great and good, BWF representatives managed to grab a quick chat with Dr Vince Cable, emphasising the significance of woodworking and endorsing the words of the CPA Chairman, Andrew Stunnell (the Minister currently responsible for the Building Regulations) on the importance of recognising certification in the Building Regs and Baroness Garden of Frogdyke on skills, apprentices and the sustainable qualities of wood.

In March 2012 BWF wrote to the Chancellor laying down a key strategy for supporting the UK Woodworking Sector.

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