England’s green and pleasant pound

The Green Investment Bank celebrated its second anniversary last Friday, and made the announcement that they have received over £5bn in funding since it began in 2012.

They are the first bank of their kind ever, brought into fruition by their only shareholder – the UK government, with an initial £3.8bn of public funds. The bank then invested £1.6bn of capital itself, massively boosting their investment capabilities. In turn, they use this money to support commercial green projects and mobilise other private sector capital into the UK’s green economy.

Their portfolio includes backing up an impressive range of green technologies, such as offshore wind power, responsible waste-handling, energy efficiency, biofuels, biomass, carbon capture and storage, marine energy and renewable heat. This all sounds like a lot of hard work within two years, but we’re sure that GIB will have toasted their efforts recently, having also financed the installation of a biomass boiler at the Royal Brackla whisky distillery at Cawdor, near Nairn.

The bank invests heavily in the Green Deal Finance Company too, who are responsible for providing those signing up to the Green Deal with loans to fund their improvements.

Marking the occasion, David Cameron, PM said “we have become one of the greatest places for green investment anywhere in the world – and the Green Investment Bank has played an instrumental role in this.

Hopefully, the GIB will continue its strong upward trajectory; assisting Britain in setting an example for the rest of Europe in energy and waste-handling efficiencies. 

Published on 04/11/2014

Further reading

Home or Away? Homebuyers increasingly look overseas

The mortgage market review in the UK has displayed how it is getting increasingly harder to obtain a mortgage in Britain. It seems that many investors are now turning their gaze a little further afield in order to get a little more bang for their buck. 


Research undertaken by GoCompare.com indicates that more than 20% of those attempting to get on the UK housing ladder would consider leaving Britain in order to own a home of their own. Whilst this doesn’t mean that those thinking of an overseas mortgage will actually pursue one, it is a clear indication that there appears to be a shifting attitude within the UK regarding the possibility of owning property abroad.

So is this due to Great Britain becoming a growing generation of nomads, or is there something else going on?

In comparison, Santander mortgages conducted a similar survey of their own. Their compiled data suggested that 1.1 million would consider leaving the UK in pursuit of a place to call home. A further 10% said they would happily move jobs or relocate elsewhere in Great Britain to help them purchase their first house. Sadly, the research also revealed that 7.5 million (49%) of non-homeowners don’t ever expect to own a home. This shows the severity of the issues the UK is currently experiencing with house prices and mortgage availability. Needless to say, with such an attitude becoming increasingly prevalent in the country, it can only be expected that people are looking for new, lucrative directions in which to channel their hard-earned cash.

In the past, the majority of people who chose to buy a home overseas did so using savings they had accumulated over the years, or with equity released from their UK residence. However, with UK house prices currently in disarray and the cost of holidays abroad steadily soaring, many are beginning to consider a home abroad as a permanent solution to both problems. This has led to foreign lenders becoming more inclined to work with prospective UK buyers, and gradually more and more people are borrowing to finance homes abroad.

Another contributing factor that could potentially be attracting many Brits to consider such a big move is the appealing interest rates around the Eurozone. Foreign lenders are often more inclined to work closely with investors, paying attention to their individual needs. For example, if your intention is to buy a property in a popular holiday location and rent it out, the income you make from renting can be offset against the loan for tax purposes. Also, some countries have extremely high wealth charges but these tend to only be payable on equity. Borrowing rather than buying outright could prove to be more financially beneficial, meaning that investors can avoid this pricey tax.

Although Europe seems to get a lot of attention from prospective emigrants, the research also suggests that people are open to the possibility of looking much, much further afield – outside of the EU. To be specific, 31% showed interest in America, 29% in Australia and 20% in New Zealand. A property in any one of these countries need not be solely a personal home, but could provide a tidy income through letting and would likely appreciate in the long term.

Whatever the reasoning and regardless of how many choose to leave Britain in order to improve their opportunities, both investigations suggest a sea change in the UK property market. It seems homebuyers are increasingly feeling like they are left with two choices, do they ride the tide or risk being left out to dry as the currents shift within the sector.

Published on 04/11/2014

Further reading

Skanska school a wizard idea

In the wake of the 15 year anniversary of the Harry Potter franchise, it appears another school could potentially become world renowned for excelling within its own niche field of expertise; only this building won’t be overseen by the ministry of magic – but the ministry of Defence.


Work has now officially begun on the multimillion pound project to provide a world-class training facility, named ‘The Defence College of Logistics, Policing and Administration’ (DCLPA) near Winchester, Hampshire. The DCLPA will cost an impressive sum of £250 million and will contain state-of-the-art facilities and living accommodation, to allow the MOD to train personnel more efficiently and effectively so that they can provide the best possible support for military operations.

Demolition work has now started in order to prepare the site at Worthy Down for the impressive new-build. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation are pairing up with industry partner Skanska to deliver the facility and living accommodation for up to 2,000 students and staff.

Skanska, who employ 57,000 people worldwide, are understandably excited about the contract. Managing Director, Terry Elphick said “We are delighted to have been selected to deliver this prestigious project and look forward to continuing our involvement with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which spans over 15 years. At Skanska we believe in delivering high quality, environmentally- efficient buildings and Worthy Down will be an exceptional example of how working in partnership can deliver world-class facilities.”

The construction process is taking place in phases, so as to ensure that training can continue relatively undisturbed on the site throughout the build period. The finished project is set to house a series of ‘villages,’ each one to be designated to junior ranks, officers and senior non-commissioned officers. There will also be sports and recreation facilities, bars and various other supporting amenities for trainees to enjoy, throughout their time at the college.

This new build will assist the DIO in their aim to provide a better estate for our armed forces. It is to be accepted that just like Hogwarts, DCLPA will not be short of a broom or two, although at the new college in Worthy Down they will more likely be used for sweeping out the officers’ mess than Quidditch practice!

Published on 04/11/2014

Further reading

Are there really fewer injuries in construction?

The construction industry has received some great news recently, with latest statistics showing record growth in certain areas of the sector, coupled with surveys reporting high levels of job satisfaction. However, construction is still considered to be one of Britain’s most dangerous areas to work in. Buildingspecifier take a closer look at the latest data release from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE.)


HSE’s latest injury and ill-health statistics suggest a slight decrease in the number of injuries this year compared to their last report. This includes minor injuries, fatalities and any injuries requiring longer than seven days off for recovery.

According to the data, the rate of injury per 100,000 is currently at 412.4, down from 422.0 last year. However, the total number of injuries amongst construction workers increased from 5,176 last year to 5,221 this year. This indicates that it is only the rate per 100,000 that has dropped, rather than the total sum of injuries.  This is possibly due to an increase in workforce within the industry over the past year. This increase in bodies could be responsible for skewing the figures slightly, making them perhaps appear more positive than they actually are.

On the results of the report, HSE head of construction sector Philip White said “another decrease in the rate of injuries in construction is clearly welcome, but I would urge the industry to avoid feeling that it is job done.”

One of the key causes of injury/illness within the sector is asbestos, with the average tradesperson coming in contact with asbestos approximately 100 times a year. As the result of a previous survey conducted last month, HSE have launched a campaign to raise awareness of asbestos risks within the construction industry. The Health and Safety Executive ascertained that 20 tradespeople die every week from diseases directly linked to asbestos exposure in the UK.

In the survey, HSE found that more than two thirds of those who participated in the survey failed to identify measures for working safely with asbestos; alarmingly only 55% of construction workers claimed that they were even aware of how to protect themselves from the risks of working with asbestos. The survey also revealed that only 15 per cent of tradespeople knew that asbestos could be found in buildings built up to the year 2000.

Although the latest statistics seem to promote the idea that there are less injuries within our industry, on further inspection it also shows that there is still a high level of risk. One of the key initiatives for industry professionals next year should be to increase the standards of health and safety on sites across the UK and actively raise awareness of occupational dangers across the board.

Published on 03/11/2014

Further reading