Yesterday’s budget speech revealed little of what we already knew. Critics have pointed out the lack of ‘Green Policy’ and others applauded the inference of growth through investment with the promise of the year-end seeing inflation reduced to under 3%. There was good news for the 1% of wealthy individuals who can afford to reduce their tax penalty with greater contributions to their pensions. Smaller companies that represent 65% of the whole in this country can also take advantage of tax allowances on investment. However before you can invest you must earn and with a 6% graduated corporation tax hike affecting all whose profit exceeds 50k and are already struggling with ever-rising costs and skills shortages, survival more than investment is probably the order of the day.


Here’s what some construction industry leaders had to say on the Spring Budgets impact on the sector.


Graham Harle CEO of Gleeds

“This budget was set against the backdrop of global uncertainty as well as a desire by the Chancellor to pacify the disgruntled Tory right wing. It is a bit like trying to carry a delicate Ming vase coated in olive oil across an ice rink wearing stilettos. One false move and it’s all going to end up in a hundred pieces.

We wanted three things – help to alleviate critical labour shortages, guarantees on infrastructure spending, and tax incentives to impact carbon reduction refurbishment of residential and commercial buildings. What we got was promises of more enterprise zones, investment incentives for mini nuclear power projects and tax breaks for capital expenditure investment.  These are all welcomed and admirable but long-term aspirations are not short-term fixes.

Our sector employs up to 7% of the working population, we needed clear strategic vision from Government to promote investment and grow confidence. In spite of the claim that this was a budget for growth, it was in fact a careful economic statement from a pressed Chancellor who had more headroom to invest, due to £30bn less borrowing costs, than he used. I am disappointed that there were no defined measures to assist us operating in the built environment, one of the largest and most impactful sectors in the UK.”

Cara Jenkinson, Cities Manager at climate solutions charity Ashden

“This budget was a terrible wasted opportunity. Mr Hunt referred to four Es in his budget –‘ Enterprise, Employment, Education and Everywhere’ but the two that could have helped all four were missing – ‘Energy Efficiency’.

‘This was a chance for the Chancellor to clearly set out that not only did the UK government recognise that focusing on energy efficiency would support citizens through the energy and cost of living crises, but would show the government is continuing to take action on the climate crisis too.

“Instead, this budget showed a UK government committed to investing £20bn in nuclear and carbon capture. £20bn could retrofit millions of homes and provide the government and society with huge quick wins – tackling the energy, climate and cost of living crises at the same time.

“The chancellor’s thinking needs a rapid upgrade – just like 19 million homes in the UK that need retrofitting. By laying out measures to boost retrofit demand and creating a generation of skilled retrofit workers, he could have not only generated savings for struggling households, but also given businesses the confidence needed to generate over 200,000 new energy efficiency jobs. A missed opportunity, that UK households, workers and businesses will keenly feel in years to come.”

Anne-Marie Mountifield, Director of The Solent Cluster

“The Solent Cluster team is pleased with the Chancellor’s announcement in Wednesday’s budget and as we have the potential to capture and store a third of the government’s annual ambitions for CCS, the impact of this for the Solent region and beyond is significant. It will make a large contribution to attracting significant investment into levelling up the Solent region, as well as creating new jobs and growth.”

Forty percent of all industrial CO2 ever captured has been successfully captured by one of the Cluster’s founding members ExxonMobil. The Cluster is actively developing its own CCS solution, drawing on the global expertise of ExxonMobil at its site in Fawley, Hampshire.

Anne-Marie continued: “Through new hydrogen production facilities, the Solent can lead the way in creating low carbon fuels for the maritime industries, on which much of our region’s economic prosperity depends.

“We are currently awaiting the announcement of Track-2 cluster funding from the government as it works towards its requirement of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. This will enable us to deploy our decarbonisation plans which, as well as offering the prospect of lower carbon energy for homes, businesses, public buildings and transport, will also help decarbonise industries in and beyond the Solent region by capturing, processing and storing their emissions.

Government expects that support for Track-2 clusters may include access to capital support through the CCS Infrastructure Fund and Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, and revenue support mechanisms through technology-specific business models.

David Hannah, Group Chairman of Cornerstone Tax 

“The announcement from the Chancellor of 12 new investment zones spread across the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, the North East, South & West Yorkshire, East Midlands, Teeside and Liverpool will drive property prices in these regions. There has been a concerted effort from the government to spread the wealth evenly throughout the UK and the introduction of these investment zones should increase the amount of jobs and businesses in these regions which will inevitably effect property prices.

“Not to mention providing more job opportunities for those who are currently unemployed causing a rise in wages and potential property buyers.The chancellor did outline employment as a priority in the announcement and a measure which the government introduced of having apprenticeships available in the skills trades for over 50-year-olds could positively affect the chronic undersupply of properties in the housing market.

“This is a good measure that helps address skills shortages, which are currently affecting 83% of businesses within the construction industry, according to research by recruitment specialist Search Consultancy. I think anything that they can do to expand the construction sector is welcomed – it is a supply crisis that we are seeing in the property market, not a demand crisis. They are focusing on getting workers to return back to work and that should inevitably speed up construction.

Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, Local Government Information Unit (LGIU)

“There was some good news for localists in today’s budget. Multi-year finance settlements and a single budget for Greater Manchester and the West Midlands is a positive step and one that we have long called for at LGIU. We should note though, that this budget only covers devolved policy areas, so large elements of public service spending are left outside it.

There will be few tears shed in the sector over the demise of LEPs. Local government is more democratically accountable and better positioned to drive strategic economic development and to facilitate the necessary local partnerships.

Three quarters of councils in our recent State of Local Government Finance report called for a 100% business rate retention and will be pleased to see the Chancellor confirming his intention to introduce this.

But while we should welcome moves to localise growth and empower local leaders, other aspects of the budget appear to confirm the Government’s unfortunate tendency to command and control.

More competitive bid funding in the Levelling Up Fund, investment zones to be decided on by central government, even the £63 million on swimming pools will be within the Government’s gift.

On top of which we see reports that the Mayor’s in West Midlands and Greater Manchester will now be subject to scrutiny from committees of MPs. This is a move in the wrong direction when we should instead be strengthening their accountability to local people, not Westminster.

Overall this feels like a budget of a government that recognises the importance of local leadership but just can’t bear to let go.”

Subrahmaniam Krishnan-Harihara, Head of Research at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce

“After the market reaction to last September’s mini-budget and the rather sombre note Chancellor Jeremy Hunt struck in his Autumn Statement, it was apparent that today’s Spring Budget had to strike a balance between measures for enabling business growth and maintaining fiscal stability. Positioned as a “Budget for growth”, today’s announcements were an attempt by the Chancellor to deliver a more upbeat tone using the additional headroom in public finances. The macroeconomic environment for this Budget is best described as uncertain. The British economy displayed unexpected resilience and grew by 0.3% in January, albeit after an equally unexpected 0.5% decline in December 2022. The UK may be past peak inflation but wage inflation and input prices remain concerns for businesses. Consequently, businesses do not have the confidence to commit to capital investment projects. Business investment in the UK has lagged behind other OECD countries for nearly a decade. At the same time, the UK labour market remains tight: unemployment is low, employment increased by 0.1 percentage points in the three-month period between November 2022 and January 202 and the estimated number of open job vacancies still remains high at 1.12 million.

“For businesses, the new scheme allowing full expensing of eligible capital spend will be welcome and it encourages business investment providing there is clarity in the economic outlook and on government plans for business taxation. The numerous fiscal events since the pandemic have brought about a mix of changes, rollbacks and tweaks. That very system of constant revisions itself presents uncertainty to businesses and the ambition to unlock business investment cannot be brought about without giving clarity and certainty.

Dr David Crosthwaite, Head of Consultancy Services at BCIS (Building Cost Information Service)

The announcement that five construction occupations will be placed on the Shortage Occupation List is a beacon of hope in an otherwise underwhelming Spring Budget, that lacks a clear industrial strategy to encourage construction investment and stimulate economic growth.

The announcement of measures to boost the number of Ukrainians entering the labour market and returnerships, targeted at the over 50s – will do little to replenish construction’s dwindling workforce. We need a more concerted approach that prioritises investment in apprenticeships and training, to tackle ingrained labour shortages.

BCIS welcomes the continued commitment to capital investment programmes. But the fact that many of these have been postponed – such as parts of HS2 and Lower Thames Crossing – will inevitably push up the price of these projects in the long term, due to their budgets being eroded by inflation.

The government’s commitment to public sector investment is encouraging and we look forward to the publication of the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline later this year, to see how much of the £600 billion is invested in construction.

Stewart Baseley, Executive Chairman at the Home Builders Federation (HBF)

 “It is disappointing there is not more in the Budget to facilitate the delivery of much-needed new homes at a time when all indicators are predicting a fall in output caused by planning policies, the interpretation of EU laws on ‘nutrient neutrality’ and a drop in affordable mortgage availability.

“Whilst welcoming the acknowledgement of the Chancellor on the seriousness of the nutrients impact, we continue to stress the need for urgent, workable and affordable solutions that reflect the minimal contribution new homes make to the issue.

“For the first time in more than two decades there is no Government support scheme in place to assist first-time buyers to buy new build homes and the Budget represents a missed opportunity to help households onto the ladder.”

Suneeta Johal , Construction Equipment Association  Chief Executive

Although there were no great surprises from Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Statement today – as many of the announcements were ‘leaked’ earlier this week, there were some positive announcements that will boost productivity within the construction sector.

Hunt claimed that this budget was for “long-term, sustainable, healthy growth” and said the Government would deliver 12 new investment zones, which he labelled “12 potential Canary Wharfs”.

The CEA welcomes this announcement and the £80 billion funding to support a range of interventions including skills, infrastructure, tax relief, and business rates retention, particularly after the delays to HS2 announced last week. Although investment funding is subject to application, where “an area must identify a location where it can offer a bold and imaginative partnership between local government and university or research institutes in a way that catalyses new innovation clusters”, it does offer an excellent opportunity for collaboration and innovation.

Another positive announcement was the new £9 billion policy of ‘full capital expensing’ for the next three years, which is to be saluted. Although currently a welcome short-term boost for business investment as we see the end of the super deduction this month, we hope to see Hunt follow through on his aim to make it permanent to encourage investment and provide stability in the long term. Hunt says the OBR believes this will boost business tax by 3% a year.


Hunt said, “I can announce we will introduce a new policy of full capital expensing for the next three years with an intention to make it permanent especially can responsibly do so that means that every single pound the company invests in IT equipment plant or machinery can be deducted.”


A new ‘enhanced credit’ for research-intensive businesses, worth £27 for every £100 it invests is a great incentive for start-up companies investing in R&D. A qualifying small or medium-sized business must spend 40% or more of their total expenditure on R&D.

The extension of the climate change agreement scheme for two years was another welcome move to allow eligible businesses £600 million of tax relief for energy efficiency measures, particularly important as we head down the road to net zero.

The fuel duty freeze is also well received and will be of great benefit to the construction and infrastructure sectors.  Hunt said: “For a further 12 months I’m going to maintain the 5p cut and I’m going to freeze fuel duty too.”

The business tax hike was confirmed, with Hunt keeping the planned increase in corporation tax from 19 percent to 25 percent in April – despite opposition from some Tory MPs. The Chancellor’s predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng had attempted to scrap the hike at the disastrous mini-Budget in 2022 – but there was a U-turn after financial turmoil.

The Chancellor set out the four pillars of our industrial strategy – Enterprise, Employment, Education and Everywhere – Hunt said that he had already allocated nearly £4 billion in over 200 projects across the country through the first two rounds of the Levelling Up Fund and a third round will follow, another welcome announcement.

Whilst the CEA welcomes the announcement of more places on ‘skills boot camps’ to encourage over-50s who have left their jobs to return to the workplace – it is not the silver bullet we were hoping to fill the chronic skills gap in our sector – we need more tangible solutions and partnerships to tackle the shortfall.

Brendan Sharkey, head of Construction and Real Estate at MHA

“Unfortunately, the four “E’s” do not deal with one of the key issues facing the economy, namely the lack of housing, particularly affordable housing.

“Housing is basic human necessity and wherever you look there is a shortage. The growing number of homeless people, the frenzy when accommodation is made available for renting and the increasing cost of renting all bear this out.

“For housing, there is a big disconnect between the what the sector needs and government policy.

“All the major house builders are publicly saying they will build fewer houses this year than last year. What we needed from the Chancellor today was a stimulus for the housing market. Unless our housing stock increases significantly, the problem will only get worse. Stamp duty reductions and tax relief on mortgage interest for first time buyers would have really helped but the budget did not address these issues at all.

“In addition the government wants to see an improvement in the quality of housing stock. However, it is not doing anything to help with supply and the enforcement of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) could mean that some housing becomes unlettable. The lack of incentives for retrofitting such as VAT exemptions and grants and financial support such as soft loans is hard to understand.

“Construction, like many sectors, is struggling to find the staff it needs so hopefully the proposals to increase employment and help the economically inactive back to work will bear fruit.”




Metal building envelope specialist SIG Building Solutions has launched a warranted twin skin system called ‘Gemello’.

Gemello, is a self-supporting roof and wall system consisting of a trapezoidal pre-finished steel liner and outer sheet with a Class A1 non-combustible glass fibre insulation in between.  Under development for a number of years, the system is now available for the roofing and cladding of steel framed buildings, including industrial, retail, office, health, education, and leisure buildings.

This new SIG Building Solutions roof and wall system can be tailored to suit the aesthetic, acoustic, thermal, fire and loading requirements of a building.  The Gemello external profiles are available in an extensive range of colours, profiles and coatings, enabling designers to create visually-engaging buildings.

In addition, the Gemello system can provide U-values down to 0.12 W/m²K or lower depending on the required performance. The design of a twin skin system also allows for denser materials to be used in its construction, improving acoustic sound reduction and rain noise.

A key feature is the Gemello system warranty.  The Gemello warranty is flexible, providing warranty periods for 12, 25 or 30 years. This warranty covers all the components within the twin skin system and the system itself.

SIG Building Solutions provides an extensive range of accessories for Gemello, including rooflights, gutters, flashings, fascias and cappings.

Working alongside the customer with a collaborative approach, SIG Building Solutions provides the technical expertise and robust product offering to develop a bespoke, effective roof and/or wall system with minimum complexity.

Commenting on Gemello, Samantha Jones, SIG Building Solutions’ commercial development director, said,


“An exciting product development, Gemello is an example of the innovation and expertise that is made available by bringing our extensive manufacturing experience together in one dynamic built up system offer.”

SIG Building Solutions


Following more than a decade of operating collaboratively alongside each other, SIG’s team of cladding and sheeting manufacturers came together in Q4 of 2022 to provide a cohesive customer facing brand under the SIG Building Solutions banner.

Providing complementary product ranges and servicing regional markets to create a national solution, these manufacturing businesses are prevalent in the agricultural and light industrial sectors and are well placed to combine their resources to present their service to a wider audience.


“SIG Building Solutions provides a relationship-driven, solutions-focused, single point of contact which translates well across the industrial, commercial and agricultural build sectors.  Our manufacturing businesses combine decades of roof and wall system expertise and manufacturing know-how which have been brought together and backed by the robust supply chain and extensive capabilities of SIG plc,” said Sam Jones.


SIG Building Solutions manufactures secondary steelwork, insulated panels, single and twin skin roof and wall profiles, bespoke fabrications, rainwater goods and ancillary products.

In addition, SIG Building Solutions has developed a range of solar car park canopy structures, and works alongside solar system providers to help organisations with large parking facilities generate solar energy and reduce their carbon footprint.






On 6 February 2023, a Mw 7.8 earthquake struck Turkey and Syria. It was followed by a Mw 7.7 earthquake nine hours later, centred 95 km (59 mi) to the north–northeast from the first, in Kahramanmaraş Province. There was widespread damage and tens of thousands of fatalities.

It was the deadliest earthquake worldwide since the 2010 Haiti earthquake and fifth-deadliest earthquake of the 21st century. As of 21 February 2023, over 48,900 deaths have been confirmed; over 42,300 in Turkey, and over 6,600 in Syria… and building regulations aren’t being adhered to??’s Joe Bradbury investigates:

Earthquakes cost lives. They also cost money. LOT’S of it. Collectively, the latest earthquakes across Turkey and Syria are estimated to have caused US$84.1 billion worth of damage, making them the fourth-costliest earthquakes on record. Coupled with that, it is also the deadliest natural disaster in Turkey’s modern history.

Whilst people are still being pulled from the rubble, the rest of the world watches, reeling – how did this happen and what could we have done to lessen the fatal outcome?

The sight of newly built apartments toppling during the carnage has stirred much heartbreak and outrage, especially within the global construction community. The fact that even some of the newest residential buildings in Turkey and Syria have crumbled to dust has raised serious concerns about current building safety regulations in those countries.

Afterall, buildings should be able to resist quakes of this magnitude thanks to modern construction techniques. And regulations enacted in the aftermath of prior tragedies in the country were supposed to ensure that these safeguards were in place.

Although the quakes were strong, experts within the field are now saying that well-built buildings should have been able to withstand them. So why did so many topple, taking thousands of people with them?

Speaking on the subject, Prof David Alexander, an expert in emergency planning and management at University College London recently told the BBC “In most places the level of shaking was less than the maximum, so we can conclude out of the thousands of buildings that collapsed, almost all of them don’t stand up to any reasonably expected earthquake construction code.”

Why aren’t building regulations being enforced?

Following earlier disasters, such as the 1999 earthquake that devastated the city of Izmit in Turkey’s northwestern region, construction restrictions have actually been strengthened. Yet, it is now coming to light that the legislation,(including the most recent requirements established in 2018) have thus far been poorly enforced.

In Turkey, for example, the government has offered periodic “building amnesties,” which are effectively legal exemptions from paying a charge for structures built without the necessary safety certificates. They have been in effect since the 1960s (with the latest in 2018).

Opponents have long cautioned that such amnesties increase the likelihood of disaster in the case of a severe earthquake. According to Pelin Pnar Giritliolu, Istanbul chairman of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects’ Chamber of City Planners, up to 75,000 buildings in the devastated earthquake zone in southern Turkey have been granted construction amnesties.

We can do better

Thankfully, other countries take their responsibilities more seriously and stand as a shining example for the benefits of adhering to code. Japan is one such example; where millions of people live in densely populated high-rise buildings despite the country’s history of severe earthquakes. Japan alone demonstrates how construction codes can assist in keeping people safe during just such catastrophes.

Building safety criteria vary depending on a building’s usage and proximity to earthquake-prone areas: from simple reinforcing to motion dampers throughout the structure to installing the entire structure on top of a massive shock absorber to isolate it from ground movement.

The relationship between a building and an earthquake

We’ve built magnificent structures and cities throughout history, only for them to be destroyed by natural forces. Earthquakes are one of the most devastating forces on Earth; seismic waves travelling through the ground can demolish structures, kill people, and cost enormous sums of money in loss and repair.

According to the National Earthquake Information Centre, 20,000 earthquakes occur each year, with 16 of them being catastrophic disasters.

Engineers have introduced new designs and building materials over the last few decades to better equip structures to resist earthquakes.

Before delving into the characteristics of earthquake-proof buildings, it’s critical to understand how earthquakes affect man-made structures. When an earthquake happens, shockwaves are sent throughout the ground in brief, quick intervals that stretch in all directions. While structures are normally designed to withstand vertical forces caused by their weight and gravity, they are not designed to withstand side-to-side pressures caused by earthquakes.

This horizontal movement causes vibrations in the walls, floors, columns, beams, and connectors that keep them all together. The movement disparity between the bottom and top of structures causes enormous stress, causing the supporting frame to break and the entire structure to collapse.

How to construct earthquake-safe buildings

Engineers labour to reinforce the structure and counteract the forces of a probable earthquake when designing an earthquake-proof building. Because earthquakes generate energy that pulls buildings in one direction, the technique entails having the building push in the other direction. Here are several strategies for making structures more earthquake resistant.

  1. Lay moving foundations

The structure is built on flexible pads that insulate the foundation from the earth. When an earthquake strikes, just the foundation shifts, while the building retains its structural integrity.

  1. Use shock absorbers

Tuned dampers mounted to beams transform motion into heat and absorb stress by using pistons and oil. This is accomplished through the use of two methods – vibrational control devices and pendulum power.

  1. Strengthen the structure of the building

Buildings must disperse forces that go through them during a seismic event in order to withstand collapse. Shear walls, cross braces, diaphragms, and moment-resisting frames are essential for building reinforcement.

  1. Use earthquake-resistant materials

The different forms of structural steel allow it to bend without breaking. Wood is a lightweight and bendable material with a high weight-to-strength ratio. Contemporary materials have the ability to be more flexible and shape-retaining.

In summary

Earthquakes are a powerful, destructive, and unexpected force that may demolish buildings, destroy towns, and put construction companies’ labour to the test. Certain areas of the world are more vulnerable to earthquakes than others, and these cities, towns, communities, and urban centres must safeguard themselves and their citizens from these natural disasters.

Governments must follow and enforce building codes; failing to do so results in blood on their hands.

The most difficult aspect of preparing for earthquakes is that no one knows when one will occur or how large it will be. Current measurement and detection technology can assist us in being better prepared for them. Building-resistant material advancements have also improved the construction industry’s ability to build for earthquakes.

The construction industry is perfectly positioned to take use of current technology that has the potential to save both lives and cities.


Euroform Product’s Versaroc® MPA1 sheathing board has been used in the construction of Europe’s largest living wall at Eden, Salford, which is set to be one of the UK’s most sustainable office buildings.


Eden is a £36 million, 115,000 sq ft, 12-storey office building at New Bailey in Salford, being developed by The English Cities Fund (ECF) – a strategic joint venture between nationwide placemaker, Muse, Legal & General and Homes England.  The main contractor is Bowmer + Kirkland.

The jewel in Eden’s crown will be a living façade, which at 43,000 sq ft will be the second largest in the world and the biggest in Europe.  The façade is designed to remove air pollutants including carbon, reduce urban temperatures offering thermal benefits to occupiers, and deliver a 174% net gain in the biodiversity of the area, while providing a high-quality green space.

Euroform’s Versaroc® MPA1 is part of the living wall structure, which involves a steel frame.  A fibre cement board comprising ordinary Portland cement with inorganic reinforcing fibres, Versaroc® MPA1 is intended for exterior sheathing of SFS frames due to its high durability and non-combustibility.

Versaroc® MPA1 achieves EuroClass A1 Reaction to Fire according to EN 13501-1:2018 and has third party Agrément from Kiwa BDA for steel frame sheathing application – certificate number BAW-20-154-P-A-UK.  Versaroc® MPA1 is also highly moisture tolerant and has achieved category A performance to EN 12467:2012 + A2:2018.  As indicated, category A is the highest level of performance that fibre cement sheets can achieve in terms of resistance to the destructive effects of varying climatic conditions including severe frost, a critical consideration for the requirements of the board used within the Eden façade.

A wide range of systems may be applied over Versaroc® MPA1 such as approved ETICS systems, terracotta cladding systems, high performance cladding systems and traditional brick coursework.

Ordered and installed by Lester Cladding, Euroform has supplied nearly 50,000 sq ft of Versaroc® MPA1 to site.

“Naturally, we are excited that our Versaroc® MPA1 product is part of the ground-breaking and prestigious new Eden office building,” said Mark Atkinson, Euroform Product’s national commercial manager.  “As we are Warrington-based, it is particularly good to have our product selected for what will become a landmark in our region.”

Once complete, Eden will have the capability to run on 100% renewable electricity and has been designed using the UK Green Building Council’s 2035-2050 standards.  Designed by Make Architects, Eden aims to be the standard-bearer in environmentally-conscious development and occupier wellbeing.

Eden is part of the wider 50-acre, £1bn Salford Central regeneration.

Euroform Products has been developing, fabricating and supplying materials for the construction industry since 1995.  Euroform specialises in ensuring fire and thermal compliance across its product range.  Each product is supported by an experienced and knowledgeable technical team to provide advice and guidance.

Euroform is part of Performance Technology Group an SIG Trading Ltd group of companies specialising in supporting the construction industry to meet acoustic, fire, thermal and vibration challenges.



Delegates at this year’s Futurebuild exhibition are being encouraged to visit stand G24 to discover how Biotecture’s living wall systems can transform urban environments and enrich spaces inside and out.

This year’s Futurebuild is being held between 7 – 9 March 2023 at ExCel, London.

Biotecture is an innovative vertical green infrastructure company with a proven track record of successfully designing, installing, and maintaining living walls both in the UK and overseas. Recent projects include the living walls across the Canary Wharf estate, 20 Fenchurch Street in London and Wimbledon Court No.1.

Urban greenery provides many benefits from reduced air pollution to better wellbeing. When space is at a premium, both literally and financially, living walls are a space efficient solution for bringing more plants into urban areas.

A recent survey commissioned by Biotecture found that two thirds (66%) of people who live in urban environments want to see more botanical beauty where they live. And 78% say greenery improves their mental wellbeing.

Recognising that space in urban areas is limited, the majority (57%) would welcome more vertical greenery, such as living walls, to make up for the lack of ground level room in their city.

The Biotecture stand will be easy to find thanks to the largescale living walls which will be on display.

Biotecture’s BioPanelTM system is a patented modular hydroponic living wall that combines efficient water management with remote sensing technology. It is the UK’s leading green wall rainscreen cladding system.

The PlantBox system is a stackable, modular living wall that is ideal for ‘quick win’ urban realm improvements. It’s modular and stackable and only requires restraint fixings. Biotecture recently installed PlantBox living walls across the Canary Wharf estate and the scheme won a prestigious BALI Award.

Rounding up the reasons to visit stand G24 is the living wall industry’s new ‘External Cladding: Living Walls and Fire Safety Best Practice Guidance’ which Biotecture was closely involved in developing. The team will be available to discuss what is essential reading for anyone looking for clarity on the National Building Regulations in relation to living walls.

Richard Sabin, Managing director at Biotecture, said: “We are encouraging as many visitors as possible to our stand at Futurebuild. We welcome discussion with clients, architects and designers on how we can enrich their projects with green walls.”

He added: “We have a solution for all types of buildings; Our patented modular hydroponic system combines efficient water management with remote sensing technology, and our freestanding PlantBox system facilitates vertical greening in smaller commercial and residential locations.”

The Biotecture suite of urban greening products are made from recycled materials and enable the incorporation of nature into the built environment.

  • The number of applications from small builders for personal guarantee insurance more than doubled in 2022, up 135% on 2021
  • Average personal guarantee backed business loan rose to £174,101 in Q4 2022
  • Local builders are securing finance just to keep business ticking over

The number of local builders applying for personal guarantee insurance (PGI), to protect their personal assets should their business fail, hit a new high in 2022.

Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance, the U.K.’s first and only provider of personal guarantee insurance saw applications from local building firms up 135% in 2022 on 2021, as directors/owners took on new finance that put their personal assets at risk. Lenders will ask for a personal guarantee when there are not enough assets in the business to repay the loan if the business fails.

Underlining the increasing costs of running local building businesses, the average value of personal guarantee backed loans taken out by local builders rose to £174,101 in Q4 2022. This is up from £156,900 in Q4 2021 – an increase of over £17,000.

The main reason for local building firms taking new finance in 2022 was for working capital, to assist with the day to day running costs of the business.


Todd Davison, MD of Purbeck Personal Guarantee Insurance said: “Our findings uncover the personal risks many small builders have accepted in the past year to secure finance to keep their businesses from insolvency.

“Many builders in need of new finance not only find that there’s a poor choice of loan products, but when they are able to find the right loan, they have to take on a big chunk of risk themselves as security for the lender. This means if the firm fails, the lender could use the builder’s personal estate such as their home and savings to settle the debt. A rapidly growing number are therefore taking steps to protect their personal assets should their business become insolvent.

“Small builders are feeling the impact of inflation and economic uncertainty on all sides and we know a growing number of construction companies are in ‘critical financial distress’[i]. It therefore makes perfect sense that they are doing what they can to bring some certainty in very uncertain times. We would certainly urge any local builder that is considering new finance to fully investigate the pros and cons of signing a personal guarantee and consider insurance to mitigate the risk. Unlike other forms of insurance, a PGI policy includes free mentoring and advice if a business gets into financial distress, to help prevent failure.”





Kingspan unveils new QuadCore Lower Embodied Carbon range – QuadCore LEC


QuadCore LEC has been developed specifically to help reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings it is used on. Using comparative Lifecycle Assessment Data (LCA) data to the EN15804-A2 standard, this breakthrough in insulated panel technology demonstrates a 41% reduction* in embodied carbon in modules A1-A3 (product stage) for QuadCore AWP in a 100mm thickness. The first products in the QuadCore LEC range will be in available in Q1 2023 in the UK and Irish markets.

Further reductions in the embodied carbon of the QuadCore LEC range are expected between now and 2030 and are underpinned by the business commitment to Net Zero Carbon manufacturing by 2030, the introduction of an internal carbon charge, and the investment in H2 Green steel – a company pioneering the manufacture of steel using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels.

Mike Stenson, Head of Innovation for Kingspan Group explained “As a business we are committed to developing high performing, energy efficient, building envelope solutions that help minimise the carbon footprint of buildings over the whole life cycle. Creating products with reduced embodied carbon and enhanced potential for circularity is key to achieving this.

QuadCore is already one of the highest performing insulation technologies in terms of thermal efficiency (underpinned by a 25-year thermal warranty) which could enable higher energy and carbon savings through the operational life of the building. This is the first step on our journey to reducing the embodied carbon of our products and we anticipate some major milestones by 2030 to drive that down even further.”


The new QuadCore LEC insulated panel range will have all relevant independent testing and certification for UK & Irish markets.

*Quadcore AWP LEC LCA shows a 41% reduction in LCA modules A1 – A3 (product stage) when compared to existing Quadcore AWP LCA to the EN15804-A2 standard for a 100mm thickness. The LCAs for QuadCore KS1000RW and QuadCore Coldstore are currently going through the verification process and EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) will be published ahead of the products launching in Q1 2023. The 41% reduction is achieved through raw material changes. When comparing modules A-C (product stage, construction process stage, use stage, end of life stage) the overall reduction is 17%.

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As the expert in innovative engineered wood panels for the UK construction and housebuilding market, we support our customer in lots of ways. Our popular downloadable checklist for housebuilders and interactive product guide proved invaluable in 2022; they are simple tools which ensure you are choosing the best panel product for your project.


You can download the checklist which will help in the selection of the perfect product from floor to roof. As you’ll see, the checklist is just one of many resources, available here, designed especially for the housebuilder.


The housebuilders’ page includes a fully interactive product guide to download, details of projects using our popular boards, answers to frequently asked questions, and samples and brochures to order. A simple click on the tabs at the side of the guide opens up the chosen product, application or technical information page. Whatever the project, the easy-to-navigate guide makes choosing the right product simple. The guide contains all the information needed on panels in the SterlingOSB Zero, CaberFloor, and CaberMDF portfolios, including detailed technical product data and installation advice. In addition to this, our guide highlights different applications, including roofing, flooring, walling, timber frames, hoarding, shopfitting, and furniture among others such as moulding and packing.


If you prefer a paper copy of the guide, which also encompasses contact information for general enquiries and technical expertise, you can request one here!


As you’d expect from the UK’s No 1 producer of engineered wood panels, we are committed to playing our part in reducing our emissions, and we are greener than you might think.  Our products are net carbon negative.  Find out more here.


All West Fraser panel products produced in the UK are manufactured in mills that have obtained the coveted environmental ISO 14001 accreditation. Responsibly sourced, the panels are FSC-certified and created from locally grown timber, cutting embodied carbon from transportation.

For further information, call 01786 812 921.



Against a backdrop of economic challenge, rising materials and labour costs, new figures from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) reveal that almost 225,000 extra workers will be required to meet UK construction demand by 2027.

CITB’s annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report shows that:

  • 224,900 extra workers (44,980 a year) will be needed to meet UK construction demand between now and 2027
  • Construction output is set to grow for all nations and regions, however, recession is expected in 2023 with slow growth returning in 2024
  • The major sectors for demand are:
    – private housing
    – infrastructure
    – repair and maintenance
  • If projected growth is met, by 2027 the number of people working in construction will be 2.67m

The report highlights that construction is expected to remain a sector where there is demand for workers despite the current economic uncertainty. As a result, recruitment, training, development and upskilling remain major priorities for the industry for 2023 and beyond.

CITB is responding by investing in apprenticeships, launching a range of targeted initiatives and working collaboratively with industry, to help the construction sector have a skilled, competent, and inclusive workforce.

Tim Balcon, CITB Chief Executive said: “The latest CSN report clearly shows that despite current economic uncertainty, recruiting and developing the workforce remains vital to ensure the industry can contribute to economic growth.

“We know the next 18 months won’t be easy, however, I remain inspired by the construction industry’s resilience shown in the pandemic and throughout 2022.

“In short, it makes clear that the need to recruit and retain talent in the sector has never been greater. Whether that’s for building the homes the country needs, constructing energy and transport infrastructure or retrofitting the built environment to help drive down energy bills and meet net zero targets.

“To bolster industry’s resilience, CITB will strive to attract and train a diverse range of recruits for industry, equipping them with modern skills for rewarding construction careers. I look forward to working with and supporting industry and stakeholders in the challenging times ahead and to emerging stronger when the recession ends.”


To help directly address these challenges and maximise the opportunities which will arise, CITB has invested almost £50m of Levy to support over 22,000 apprentices to help them join the industry; while grants have helped support over 16,000 learners to complete their qualifications.

Direct funding has provided grants over 269,000 training courses and in total £97m has been invested in grant funding by CITB, to make it as easy as possible for employers to recruit and retain their skilled workforce.

CITB continues to provide targeted support to SMEs through grant and funding and through support in accessing training and funding. Since April 2022, CITB’s engagement team has supported SMEs on 26,976 occasions, supporting them to continue to train during the current economic uncertainty.

CITB also offers funding aimed specifically at smaller companies such as the Skills and Training Fund. Companies with fewer than 250 PAYE employees can access up to £25,000 annually (depending on their size). By the end of quarter two 2022, £3.9m had been invested in companies via this fund.

CITB’s Scottish Academy for Construction Opportunities (SACO) commission has awarded £1.3m across the Highlands and Islands; while England Construction Opportunities (ECO) commission has awarded a total of just over £1.8m. This investment will directly help address the construction industry’s skills gap, increase employment retention, and provide vital support to new starters at the beginning of their construction careers, by promoting work experience for new entrants to the industry.

Experience Hubs across England and Wales are creating a talent pipeline to meet the needs of local construction employers and to support construction career opportunities for people from local communities.

Further CITB initiatives range from localised solutions for funding and training like our employer network pilot project, available to more than 3,800 levy-registered construction businesses across five locations in England, Scotland and Wales; to a £10.5m Leadership and Management commission which will provide funded courses for businesses of all sizes to equip supervisors and managers with a recognised Leadership and Management qualification.

Training remains a key focus, which is why CITB has invested in National Construction College (NCC) sites, to meet the industry’s specialist training needs. By focusing the curriculum on unmet demand, we are looking to build capacity for the industry, which has resulted in a 25% increase in the number of people trained to date. Our data shows that 96% of CITB apprentices have secured employment or progressed in education, with over 90% remaining in the sector.

Tim Balcon concluded: “This coordinated and comprehensive approach to helping recruit, train, develop and upskill talent, whilst continuing to work collaboratively with industry and stakeholders means CITB will continue to play a central role in supporting an industry that is a key driver of the UK economy through these challenging times.”

CITB will be targeting more than 11,800 people to attract them into construction careers, as part of the Pathways Into Construction programme.

Construction output is expected to grow by 1.3% per year with 168,500 jobs being created by 2023 – challenging employers to recruit more people from diverse backgrounds.

Just 16% of construction employees are female, and 7% are from BAME backgrounds.

This has been due, in part, because construction employers have relied over the years on traditional recruitment methods (PDF. 903kb) such as word of mouth.

Pathways Into Construction will attract people from underrepresented groups over the next three years with CITB’s investment establishing recruitment pathways that employers can use in future.

This supports construction employers by helping them meet their workforce and skills needs. Pathways Into Construction will see a £10m investment in 270 colleges; construction employers and federations; infrastructure projects; councils; housing associations; armed forces organisations; charities; prisons; recruiters and training providers across England, Wales and Scotland to connect employers with people who traditionally don’t enter the industry.

CITB insight into critical training and employment issues underpins the Pathways Into Construction programme with investment aimed at key groups including young people not in education, training or work; women; long-term unemployed; service leavers who left the military at least 12 months ago; and full-time learners, focusing on CBE Diploma students.

In the West Midlands and East Anglia, Women Into Construction will assist 240 women with work-readiness support and job placements with 30 companies, half of which are to be small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Specifically in Wales, Creating Enterprise will also run work readiness courses and placements for more than 140 long-term unemployed people, including careers support plans beyond the project. Also in Wales, the Community Impact Initiative will provide nine renovation projects for 72 women to train on, plus CSCS card testing, along with vital on-site work experience to enable employment in the industry.

In Scotland, Sibbald will target 180 service leavers and young people not in education, training or employment within the North Glasgow area, in partnership with Glasgow Kelvin College, TIGERS Ltd, Keepmoat and Morgan Sindall.

Stephen Cole, CITB Head of Careers Strategy, said “With thousands of jobs being created in the coming years, Pathways Into Construction will demonstrate that we need to stop fishing in only half the pond and diversify the talent pool to meet future skills needs.

“We’ll explore the best routes, which employers can adopt in future, to bring under-represented groups into the industry, not only filling the skills gap but also supporting employers by recruiting domestic talent with Brexit on the horizon.”

Mark Reynolds, Mace Group CEO and Construction Leadership Council lead on skills, added “The funding awarded to the 16 projects will have a huge impact… It will help to ensure that everyone can access high-quality construction training and employers can find the right new people to deliver their projects.”

Other organisations leading Pathways Into Construction multi-partner projects include: Abbey Access Training; Balfour Beatty; Construction Youth Trust; Croydon Council, Doncaster College; EN:Able Futures; Ethos VO Ltd; the Home Builders Federation; Leeds Beckett University; Lendlease; Saint-Gobain; Sibbald Ltd; and YTKO.