Fair payment for joinery manufacturers, reduced VAT on home improvements and extended support for apprentices are all on the industry’s wishlist in advance of the Autumn Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Wednesday (4 December).

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has written to the Chancellor setting out the most critical needs of the woodworking and joinery manufacturing sector for the year ahead. The BWF is urging the Chancellor to support policies that drive a sustained upturn in supply and growth in the wider construction sector.

Iain McIlwee, BWF chief executive, said: “BWF’s most recent quarterly State of Trade survey noted a balance of 43% of joinery firms reporting an increase in sales volumes.  After two successive quarters of decline, this has been the first real sign of green shoots. It’s very welcome, but growth is being fuelled very much by the new homes sector.

“So this year’s Autumn Statement must be about broadening the scope and sustainability of recent growth. Policies like Help-to-Buy have been great at getting housing moving, but what happens when these schemes run out?

“We have an industrial strategy for construction now that is designed to be a partnership between industry and government. For this to work we need to ensure that the principles are threaded through government policy and be reassured that the Treasury is committed to supporting these principles. Without this commitment, it is simply another sop to the construction sector.”

The BWF is asking for:

  • Greater measures to support competitiveness of UK manufacturing which is under increased pressure from imports;
  • An extension to Small Business Rate Relief beyond 31 March 2014, a freeze on business rates and fuel duties cut to support growth and investment;
  • Government support for the NSCC’s Fair Payment Campaign;
  • Increased access to finance and support for the securitisation of loans to SMEs in order to increase the overall supply of finance for small businesses;
  • An extension of the 5% VAT rate to cover all private housing repairs and maintenance work;
  • Wider eligibility of fully-funded apprenticeships to all age groups, not just 16-18 year olds;
  • The recognition of environmentally sustainable, carbon-saving materials such as timber within schemes such as Green Deal and ECO, and within the national housing standards which are currently in development.

Click the link to read a copy of the BWF's letter to the Chancellor.