President’s Column: July/August 2021
On the 24th June, the BCSA held its AGM in London, I was voted in to serve another year. At times like this it is only natural to reflect on the last year in office, what has worked and what didn’t go so well, all in the backdrop of very challenging times. The instabilities caused by BREXIT, the COVID-19 pandemic, large scale price increases, scarcity of supply and the climate emergency have all made the last 12 months interesting to say the least.
But, BCSA has been there to help its members get through, advising members on legal and commercial issues surrounding BREXIT, successfully lobbying government to extend the furlough scheme that provides a vital lifeline for steelwork contractors, and liaising with the insurance industry and government to improve the availability and affordability of PI insurance. The BCSA also lobbied hard on our behalf on Reverse VAT. We helped to get this legislation delayed for quite some time, but ultimately the lobbying couldn’t prevent it from being introduced. HMRC were dogmatic about this as similar legislation had been passed in the majority of EU countries to prevent widespread organised criminal activity linked to VAT. Nevertheless, BCSA is now helping its members transition from quarterly to monthly VAT to lessen the impact. The BCSA is a small organisation, but we do punch above our weight with government on issues for your behalf.
The spotlight on sustainability has developed rapidly in the last 12 months with the focus firmly on low carbon solutions. Members are now regularly being asked searching questions about sustainability by their clients. One of BCSA’s key activities has been to commence a targeted sustainability campaign, which includes a decarbonisation roadmap for the constructional steelwork industry; a series of detailed FAQs; a set of carbon footprint tools to allow members to determine both their company’s and individual project carbon emissions, a sustainability specification which may form part of the NSSS, and a revised Sustainability Charter, which I urge all members to join. If you’re not sure what to do the BCSA will certainly point you in the right direction.
However, during the last 12 months the BCSA’s key focus has been on supporting members with the necessary guidance, support and advice required for their businesses and workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. BCSA itself has had to adapt swiftly, with staff home working, remote auditing by SCCS, virtual committee and regional meetings, and online webinars. Have members noticed a drop-in service? I certainly haven’t, which I think speaks volumes for our Association.
BCSA’s marketing and promotional activity has continued with an updated website, refreshed NSC magazine, SSDA 2020 – although I did miss the Awards event itself, sadly another casualty of COVID-19 – and much more. Recently, the BCSA Council has committed increased funding for Steel for Life to continue and expand on this good work and BCSA wrote to all industry members recently asking them to support Steel for Life too. Maintaining steel’s high market share is important as it generates tender opportunities for all of us. We would humbly ask you to seriously consider becoming a sponsor.
As for the next 12 months, we’ll be aiming to convince current non-believer steelwork companies of the benefits of membership of the BCSA to grow the Association. Onwards and upwards.