None of my business, I’ll be the first to admit. The BMF doesn’t fling any money into the Wood for Good coffers, and it’s only right that the guys who hold the purse strings should decide on policy objectives. But…

One of the joys of representing the merchanting industry is that we get to see the industry through so many different sets of eyes. Last October, two weeks after addressing the Masonry Summit on the need to work closely with distributors, I was privileged to be invited to a Wood for Good stakeholder meeting to discuss how the campaign should go forward in 2011.

It was a rather more select and reflective affair than the Masonry Summit, to be sure. But at bottom, exactly the same issues pertain: what we need as an industry is more homes, more refurb and more activity. Here and now, January 2011, it doesn’t actually matter what percentage of the homes that are not being built are not being built of timber frame construction. What matters is that homes are not being built.

The masonry industry seems to understand this. When I talk to the Modern Masonry Alliance these days, it’s not (thank God!) any longer about how they plan to stuff timber frame; it’s about how we can work together to get the market moving again and get politicians to understand the big picture that only construction is capable of delivering genuine, sustainable employment and genuine, long-term benefits to the UK’s infrastructure.

So may I respectfully suggest one useful tactical way forward for Wood for Good is to concentrate its efforts on the RMI market for a change. If politicians want to reduce the carbon emissions from everybody’s homes, let’s hit them with arguments that resonate with the carbon-reduction home improvement agenda.

The value of housing RMI is roughly four times larger than new build. So why put all your eggs in the smallest basket? How about, for example, campaigns to promote the benefits of plywood over plasterboard? Repair, maintenance and improvement represents a battleground where timber can speak its benefits directly, on a project-by-project basis, to the small builder, the landlord, the home improver, the self-builder and the DIY man.

Got to be worth the punt, hasn’t it?

? TTJ Industry updates are a forum for trade bodies to address key issues.