Construction leaders are calling on the new Prime Minister to intervene as construction output flatlines for the benefit of the wider economy as the latest statistics show that the sector is flatlining, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Commenting on the latest construction output statistics from the Office for National Statistics, which show that construction output growth in Great Britain was flat (0.0%) in the three-month on three-months to May 2019, Sarah McMonagle, Director of Communications at the FMB, said “Alarm bells will be ringing in the ears of the two candidates vying to be Prime Minister, with these latest stats showing that the construction sector is at a standstill. Whoever wins the race for PM, I want to see that person take decisive action in their first days in office by intervening to stimulate our waning sector, which is so vital to the health of the wider economy. Indeed, without it, our country’s house building aspirations will be impossible to deliver.”

“The poor performance of the construction sector over the past few months was driven partly by a drop in activity in the repair and maintenance sector. As you would expect, this part of the construction industry is particularly vulnerable to dips in consumer confidence, which the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit continues to perpetuate. There would be no better way to encourage homeowners to commission building projects in the second half of this year than by slashing VAT on housing repair, maintenance and improvement from 20 percent to 5 per cent. Furthermore, when we asked our members how the next PM could best prevent an economic downturn, almost 90 per cent felt this was the most effective way to achieve it.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), added “Boris the builder must build columns instead of writing them if he is to fix the housing crisis and restore the hope of home ownership to a generation. We will only reach the number of good quality homes we need, and at the rate we need them, if local house builders are freed up to build as many homes as the large house builders. We want to see Boris bring down the barriers facing construction SMEs, including those who repair and maintain our homes. If Boris is looking to cut taxes, then we suggest slashing VAT on home improvement works, as nine in ten builders believe this is the single best tool in Boris the builder’s toolkit to prevent an economic downturn post-Brexit. Bojo must restore the housing market’s mojo to ensure that Brexit Britain is built on strong foundations.”

Coffee shops fuelling Londoners’ morning caffeine fix will also be helping to power office buildings and supermarkets, under a new capital-wide scheme.

The innovative coffee ground collection service is the brainchild of advanced biofuel company bio-bean, previous winners of the Mayor of London’s inaugural green technology Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award. They will turn the waste coffee grounds collected from London baristas into advanced biomass pellets, which will then be used to power energy networks with the capacity to heat up to 15,000 homes. The support and funding from the award has helped to turn founder and chief executive Arthur Kay’s green idea into a viable, now nation-wide business, employing over 20 people.

Mayor Boris Johnson called on more students to get involved in London’s thriving green economy and submit green business ideas as he launched the 2016 Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award with a top prize of £20,000. He was joined by Mr Kay at independent coffee shop Workshop Coffee in Clerkenwell, one of hundreds of coffee shops, office blocks and transport hubs in London now part of the daily coffee ground collection service run in collaboration with recycling company First Mile.

The competition has helped many university students launch green businesses including SolarBox, which turns disused telephone boxes into solar-powered mobile phone stations, and online clothes-swapping website Clotho London. The value of the green industry to the city is already as much as £30 billion a year and it employs 160,000 people, growing throughout the recession and now at a rate of six per cent a year.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said “Our green economy is booming and I want the next generation of Low Carbon Entrepreneurs to help make London the greenest, most sustainable innovative city on earth. The roaring success of previous winners like Bio-bean demonstrates the huge market for green technology ideas. They’ve done the hard grind and Londoners can now enjoy their daily coffee fix in the safe knowledge that as well as their own caffeine kick the energy levels of as many as 15,000 homes are being boosted!”

Bio-bean is the first company in the world to industrialise the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels. Their factory has the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year, the equivalent of one in every ten cups of coffee drunk in the UK, and at full capacity turn these into enough power to heat the equivalent of over 15,000 homes. Furthermore, as well as saving money for customers, each tonne recycled through bio-bean’s process saves up to 6.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Bio-bean has already secured a deal with Network Rail to collect waste coffee grounds from London’s seven largest train stations and has plans for even greater expansion.

Bio-bean chief executive Arthur Kay said “The first ever Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award gave me (and bio-bean) a great start. The London collection service marks a milestone in our UK development, as we collect waste coffee grounds at every scale, saving money on waste disposal fees and creating sustainability advantages for each of our clients.”

This year’s awards will be sponsored by Citi, the global banking group, and will offer £20,000 and paid internships at Citi in the UK, where the bank employs almost 10,000 people. 10 finalists will pitch to a panel of well-known judges in ‘Dragon’s Den’ style and the winners will receive funding to put towards their business idea. The competition is an important part of the Mayor’s vision to make London the European capital for green technology and to also nourish young entrepreneurship. Awards are open from today until February 2016. Entries can be made in a number of different categories, including transport, energy efficiency, product design and food waste.

Michael Lavelle, head of Corporate and Investment Banking, UK at Citi, said “We’re thrilled to be the new sponsor of this important initiative in London. At Citi, we are committed to developing innovative ways of financing projects that lead to sustainable growth. We recently announced that Citi will lend, invest and facilitate a total of $100 billion within the next 10 years to finance activities that reduce the impacts of climate change and create environmental solutions that benefit people and communities.”

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation is currently exploring how it could deliver the Mayor’s aspiration for a clean tech cluster to be developed on site, which could allow businesses in the sector to work together in close proximity similar to the ‘silicon roundabout’ for tech companies in east London. This could support businesses to maximise the benefits generated by the new High Speed 2 (HS2), Crossrail and Great West Main Line interchange, which will be situated in the area.