Past Campaigns

The BFC has an ongoing policy to develop positioning papers on a wide range of activities affecting the furniture industry, either in accordance with its 2010 Five year Strategic Plan or in response to government initiatives/announcements.

Biomass Subsidies - February 2012

“The members of The British Furniture Confederation have agreed that the effect of the subsidies granted to the Energy industry for the burning of woody biomass on the price of the key raw material for our industry is so important an issue for such a broad spectrum of the industry that the Confederation should campaign for a rethink. We have produced a report to explain the consequences of the policy for the future of the industry which can be accessed on line at Fira have kindly helped greatly with the preparation of this report.

There are three key aspects to be emphasised:

  1. For our industry – there is an increased an unintended pressure on margins which will force companies to consider their future and the level of employment they can afford within their UK production. Jobs will be lost.
  2. For the economy – prices to the consumer will rise – both for our industry’s products and, of course, for power; the ROC subsidy is ultimately paid for by the consumer. Furthermore it seems bizarre to just burn our natural resource when we could add value to it by making something with it which can be sold abroad as well as at home, and
  3. For the environment – burning wood, especially virgin timber, releases straight back into the atmosphere the carbon that was captured in the trees’ growth. The alternative use of wood for manufacture of product keeps the carbon locked. It takes 20 years plus to grow timber and two minutes to burn it.

We have already pressed the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Group to champion the cause for us which they have agreed to do. We will shortly be launching a petition, which will be important to add weight to our pressure on this issue so that those in power take the time to get a proper understanding of the, hopefully unintended, consequences of this blunt instrument on our important sector of UK manufacturing.

I urge everyone in the industry to personally take the time to add their name to the petition. (petition goes live on 29th February 2012)

Paul von der Heyde

Chairman, British Furniture Confederation

BFC Position Paper - Exporting - October 2010

We greatly welcome the Foreign Secretary’s policy to bring to the teams in British Embassies a greater level of expertise and commitment to the promotion of UK trade and commerce. The furniture industry has exports of £1B but believes more can be done with the active assistance of Government.

We propose;

  1. That the Government impose a duty on Embassies to procure all their capital requirements and in particular furniture from UK companies. If this was the case the BFC would negotiate very attractive terms for the purchase of such furniture from all UK furniture companies.
  2. Clearly Embassy staff will need proper training. The BFC will provide, through its member companies all that such staff will need, including briefings and visits to manufacturing companies.
  3. The BFC support the action being taken through the Creative Industries Board by Simon Carter with “Going Global” targeted at SME and providing online information on overseas markets. The BFC believes that this initiative must be targeted at key markets and tied in with the action being taken with the British Embassies.

Martin Jourdan

(Chairman BFC)

18th October 2010

BFC Position Paper - Bank Loans - October 2010

The BFC believe there is a problem with loans to small and medium sized business which might be easy to solve.

In many cases Banks are asking for personal guarantees from proprietors seeking business finance. Where this finance is not guaranteed by Government, the Banks, we believe are entitled to ask for such guarantees although one may ask why this seems to be necessary in so many cases.

However where the Government guarantees such finance* there seems to be no reason for the Banks to further protect their position by asking for a personal guarantee.

There is no doubt that the insistence on personal guarantees from the Banks is a very significant disincentive for a business to seek funding.

The BFC asked the last Government to clarify the position and we understood that the Government was not insisting on personal guarantees but leaving the matter in the hands of the Banks.

However, as this problem still persists we think it would be beneficial for the Government to make clear to the Banks that loans subject to Government guarantees should not carry the need for an additional personal guarantee from the proprietor.

Martin Jourdan< br/>
Chair BFC< br/>
6th October 2010

* The Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme facilitates additional bank lending to viable Small & Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) which lack collateral to secure a normal commercial loan. The Government provides the lender with a guarantee for which the borrower pays a premium.

BFC Position Paper - Government purchasing - October 2010

Reducing the cost of Public Procurement and improving UK Manufacturing

The BFC supports the requirement to reduce the cost to central and local government in the purchase of products and services. We believe there are improvements that can be made in this process that will help achieve this and may also improve the performance of suppliers to government. We also support the Glover Committee Report, which recommended a single portal to promote contracts from the public sector.

Supply framework and purchasing agreements such as those used by the OGC and NHS provide a solution through a limited number of suppliers. As this procurement arrangement is not compulsory, many more fully qualified companies supply to the public sector outside these frameworks.

The process to prepare and to evaluate tenders is time consuming, requiring constant repetition of data entry on paperwork. This is expensive to administer for both the buyer and the seller. We welcome the Publicly Available Specification (PAS 91) and support its aim of reducing the duplication in the tender process. Its genesis from within the construction industry is allied to the “lighter” sector of furniture and furnishing and its adoption within our industry will require consideration.

We do though wish to point out an even more effective process that will not only improve the efficiency of the tender process but provides a vital link between the buyer, seller and the opportunities to supply. Economic recovery in the UK will rely heavily on the commercial success of SME’s which will in turn respond to the governments requirement to create private sector employment opportunities.

The BFC suggests that government considers a system such as CompeteFor, as introduced for the purchasing requirements for the 2012 Olympic Games. This not only, through its registration process reduces the repletion of data but provides a transparent procurement portal that is open to suitably qualified businesses. CompeteFor is now being used in a wider purchasing role for a number of London Boroughs, the most recent of which is Haringey Council and has received the support of the Federation of Small Businesses, the CBI and the London Chamber of Commerce.

Other such systems may well be under consideration but we would support the clarity and efficiency of one route to market through a single system that is not only efficient but creates equal opportunities for all businesses in our industry.

Martin Jourdan

(Chairman BFC)

22nd October 2010

BFC Position Paper - Proposal for Furniture Advisory Board - October 2010

The furniture industry has a factory gate output of £8.3b (2009), employs directly 119,000 people in 8655 companies. The industry is spread all over the United Kingdom and in none of the RDAs has it been recognised as a “priority sector”.

The purpose of this paper is to set out, in brief the argument for a national body, perhaps called the Furniture Advisory Board (FAB) to advise government on the disbursement of whatever funds might in future be available for the UK furniture industry from the EU and UK government.

In October 2005 the EU Structural Fund 1314/05 designated specific funding for industries undergoing structural change, of which the furniture industry was one, but these funds were diverted by the government to the RDAs with the result that none of this support found its way in to the industry. In order to prevent this type of action occurring again, and to ensure that if and when funds are available they are spent wisely and effectively ,we are setting out the advantages of FAB and how it might be set up and managed. These proposals are designed work with the Coalition Government’s policy of pushing decision making to the lowest practical level and would compliment the Local Enterprise Partnerships currently being established.

FAB would comprise representatives from all sectors of the industry as is exemplified by the BFC and would be matched with appropriate representation from BIS. There could be an independent Chair and the secretariat could be within the BIS. If that were not possible the BFC would happily take on that role.

FAB would be an advisory body; the ultimate decisions on funding would rest with BIS as the sums involved would, in one way or another be taxpayer’s money. Whenever funds were available, FAB would be invited to prepare a prioritised list of potential projects which would be of value to the industry together with costs and outputs.

This proposal would be of great advantage to industry and Government and I hope that we might pursue this initiative further with you and your advisers.

Martin Jourdan

(Chairman BFC)

6th October 2010

Our Mission Statement

To sustain a strong and influential dialogue with Government, ensuring that its policies support a thriving UK furniture industry.

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