Well that’s Christmas over for another year and as we stand on the eve of 2019, it is worth preparing ourselves for the significant changes that will definitely be happening over the next 12 months, which of course we will be covering here on The Hub.
So what do we actually think are the major changes that will happen? And how will they affect the construction industry?
Below are a few predictions on the issues that are very likely to affect us all throughout the coming year.
When motivated and driven collectively, people can affect big change
In a lecture at the University of Liverpool in mid-December, Ivan Roger, the former UK ambassador to the EU gave a speech on the nine lessons of Brexit with his first point mirroring the Prime Minister’s infamous mantra ‘Brexit means Brexit’.
Mr Rogers lecture, which is well worth taking half an hour to read, highlights the major change that we can be pretty certain is going to happen in 2019.
His point is that “leaving the EU is genuinely a major regime change, with massive political, legal, economic and social consequences.”
Whether we end up with Theresa May’s deal, no deal, a new referendum, or even a rescinding of Article 50, change is going to occur.
The difficulty for anyone and any business at this point in time is planning for this change without knowing the full details and implications … but be sure that change is coming.
Another possible change as a result of all the Brexit shenanigans is a change of Prime Minister. As part of her fight against the vote of no confidence from her own party, Theresa May had to promise not to lead the conservatives into the next election, whenever that is.
Many commentators and politicians are therefore calling her a ‘lame duck’ and it is likely that once Brexit is resolved (one way or the other), she will step aside and allow someone else to lead the party. This could even happen sooner if Parliament votes for a ‘people’s vote’ which Mrs May has publicly rejected.
Whether things end there or not is difficult to say, because you can bet that the opposition party will be demanding another election when a new Tory leader emerges (sorry Brenda from Bristol!), so 2019 could even see a change of government.
Whatever happens, once Brexit has been sorted, we expect the government to start to seriously look at housebuilding to rectify the decades of under investment in this area.
The revision to SAP calculations will be implemented in 2019 and this makes the case for air source heat pumps in new-build much stronger.
We spoke of 2018 being the year that renewable heating started to take off and this looks likely to grow significantly in the new-build sector as the major developers realise that they can adhere to SAP much more readily by rejecting gas heating and including heat pumps in their new developments.
This drive towards heating systems fit for the 21st Century, rather than the 19th become more common and people realise just how easy, straightforward and cost-effective they are to run.
We already focused on the growth of renewable power generation on The Hub and highlighted the days where traditional energy production has fallen behind renewables and this is set to continue apace.
This is going to continue growing and in just a few years, not having renewable heating in your home or business is going to seem archaic and is likely to affect the council tax or business rates you pay, with the ‘polluters’ charged more for not making the switch to clean technologies such as heat pumps.
The past couple of years have really demonstrated that individuals can be very powerful when they come together for a common purpose.
This has seen Hollywood, the Boardroom and other sectors challenged for their continued dominance by men and it is likely that this move will continue apace throughout other sectors in the year coming.
And these ‘crowd’ initiatives, often fuelled by social media, have seen other ‘individual’ campaigns gather significant momentum and affect the overall political and business scenes.
Take the #People’s Vote, which is on the verge of bringing in a second referendum on whether we Brexit or not – something that was not being seriously considered even a few months ago.
And a lot of the focus on plastic throughout the past year has been a response to the reactions of individuals, so we expect more consumer pressure on the manufacturers of goods to, not only change the way things are produced so they are less wasteful to begin with, but also to manufacture products with their complete lifecycle in mind from day one.
The other move that is fast growing apace is the rejection of meat by many, whether going full vegan or not. People now realise that the meat we eat can be very carbon-intensive to produce and may involve questionable methods of husbandry and production.
I mention this, because becoming a vegan or even a vegetarian is an individual choice that one person can make that will have a major impact on them AND change the way we as a society behave. This demonstrates the power that every single thing you and I do as individuals can and does make a difference.
So government and big business has been put on alert that people when motivated and driven can affect big change.
In the past few years, we have seen a dramatic rise in ‘Fake News’ and this is likely to continue, although I do slowly sense that the ‘public’ are finally rejecting the ‘we don’t need experts’ approach that has led much of the so-called ‘debate’ about Brexit.
When we look around us at the catastrophic impact our lifestyles are having on our planet, and then look back at all the expert warnings we have failed to properly listen to, then people can start to see that you can’t hide from facts by purely basing your policy on ‘wishful thinking’.
I’ve mentioned the collective power of individuals and how social media is now a vehicle for driving this change. This all leads to the collection of powerful data on us as individuals which will tailor and shape the world we are presented with on whatever platforms we use.
Growth in this data will continue and grow significantly and how this is used and where it is kept safe will also grow in importance.
The fall-out from the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal and its impact on both the Brexit vote and the US election will continue to grab the headlines throughout the coming year.
Yes as always, there will be spin on any issue, with one side trying to show why they are right and everyone else is wrong.
That is why, here at The Hub, we will continue to simply try and present the facts along with opinion on how these issues affect the construction sector and everyone reliant on it.