Last month, at FPDC’s Annual General Meeting, the executive board of FPDC reported that the last 12 months had proved to be every bit as economically challenging as was predicted.
Some plans had to be altered to reflect evolving market condition Steve Halcrow reports.
The intake of new members saw income in line with expectations together with a solid performance from events meant that, along with implementing operating efficiencies, FPDC was able to report a healthy profit of ú18,000 for the year to 31 December. This success will increase the FPDC reserves to ú145,000 and represented an encouraging result in the face of stiff trading conditions.
Not withstanding the challenges environment, FPDC was able to offer numerous useful services for members.
An extensive report into training within the interiors sector progressed and a draft report is now with CITB. FPDC and its research partners are discussing how it can be made publicly available. The report makes a number of important observations and recommendations concerning training in our sector and FPDC will pursue it with CITB.
The proposed merger with AIS has gathered pace and now looks increasingly likely to come to fruition, subject to member votes and due diligence. The discussions have taken a lot of attention during the year and it has required the input of all staff and members of the executive board. At the time of writing the merger is anticipated to be completed during the spring.
The team has worked hard on a series of events. In October the President’s Gala had a slightly lower attendance than in previous years but the feedback received was very favourable. The Plaisterers’ Awards Ceremony was over subscribed.
Through the year FPDC improved communication with members implementing social media campaigns to go alongside the website, SpecFinish and direct mailing. This is in line with our declared objective from last year.
A big part of any FPDC publicity campaign in SpecFinish magazine and its own website, and these have simply gone from strength to strength. The team has been on hand to help and advise in many areas.
During 2013 we continued to offer technical support and advice to members, and as a paid service to non-members. The technical team fielded a moderate level of enquiries and this year have attended a range site investigations to support contractors in areas embracing drylining, partitioning, plastering and external render. With the growth in external wall insulation there was a noticeable upturn in rendering enquiries.
The overwhelming cause of technical queries remains lack of understanding (or perhaps deliberate reluctance to accept) the rules and recommendations of the British Standard in terms of snagging and inspection of finished works. FPDC has been able to offer advice on this subject to several members, and it continues to publish articles on the subject through SpecFinish.
Due to certain changes in funding arrangements the Management & Supervisory Development Programme training was restricted during the year. It was disappointing to have had bids for funding rejected by CITB when in previous years the training has been supported, and this at a time when CITB were offering greater support to our sector. FPDC will be pursuing the matter with vigour in 2014.
Another step forward has been the introduction of E-learning modules. These short courses have been available for some time and we await feedback from members as we plan how to develop these in the future.
Legal and employment
FPDC provided advice and support to alert members about the application of existing legislation and changes to employment and pension legislation.
During the year the greatest member concerns were about employment issues and payment.
Health, safety and environment
FPDC’s aim is to see a reduction in occupational hazards in this sector and promote best practice. There has been increased focus on working at height safely and materials handling.
FPDC is pleased to be involved in the Plasterboard Sustainability Partnership. We have been representing members’ interests talking to other partners and emphasis is now focused on designing out waste in the early stages of contracts. FPDC welcome initiatives to seek improved efficiency and sustainable sourcing of materials.