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Hire Association Europe was formed in 1973 and has led the way in representing the diverse UK hire industry. More recently, the Event Hire Association (EHA) was established to represent hirers in the rapidly growing events, catering, hospitality and audio-visual sectors. HAE membership also includes a number of suppliers and manufacturers and this involvement is a key strength in providing a stimulus for innovation and product development. We are active participants in European and global hire industry bodies.
HAE is working with members to widen the range of hire specific data and information. Our members operate from over 3,000 depots and the top ten hire businesses in total employ over 25,000 people. Estimates of annual turnover for plant and machinery hire alone ranges from £6 to £11 billion. Event hire specialists play a major role in supporting the £20 billion events industry. Our aim is work with members to deepen the information and knowledge about the hire industry.
Put simply, our members provide quality, safely maintained equipment when (and often where) the client or customer needs it. This is backed up by specialist product knowledge to promote safe and efficient use of the hired equipment. It is much more than a logistics exercise, but systems and a detailed understanding of our client’s needs are paramount. For the client, hire provides a cost effective means of making use of equipment when and where it is required, but without the capital costs of purchase; revenue costs for ongoing maintenance and depreciation implications for the balance sheet. For the individual customer, perhaps doing some improvement work at home, access to specialist tools and equipment is supported by sound advice.
Most businesses and public sector organisations will hire equipment at some stage. Our main client is the construction industry and HAE members enable infrastructure and development activity to take place. The hire inventory is expansive and ever growing. For example, clients can range from construction businesses needing specialist excavation plant; local highways authorities needing temporary traffic lights and a generator; or the shopping centre needing high access equipment to repair and maintain roof panels. Without a strong hire industry many businesses would face increased, and in some cases, prohibitive capital costs to purchase equipment and that’s before the ongoing costs. More recently, facilities management and utilities companies have become key growth partners for our industry.
For such a diverse and customer facing industry as hire, there is no shortage of public policy issues impacting on member businesses. The more significant ones in terms of scale and cost are outlined here, but this is not an exhaustive list.
1.The economy: our direct relationship with the construction industry means that we face similar pressures resulting from the slowdown in building activity. Added to this is the prospect of sharp cuts to public sector funding and thereby reducing the volume of infrastructure, maintenance and other activity. HAE has warned against too deep cuts to the renewal of national infrastructure as this will impede the recovery and damage our industry and the construction sector.
2.Health & safety: the provision of safe, well-maintained equipment, supported by safety knowledge is a key attribute of the hire industry. HAE operates SafeHire; an industry initiative to promote the highest standards of safe practices and awareness amongst employees and customers. Members with expert knowledge are helping to shape our services in support of the industry.
3.Skills & training: HAE has a clear mission to promote, encourage and support improved skills in the hire workforce. The growing importance of customer and general business skills, and more detailed health and safety and environmental knowledge has led to an expansion in our training portfolio and member engagement in apprenticeships and other initiatives.
4.Environment & sustainability: hire promotes the reuse of equipment and its continuous maintenance ensures that a single tool or appliance can last much longer. The direct relationship between hirer and supplier/manufacturer results in better environmental performance and safety enhancements. HAE has recently contributed to European guidance of good practice in reducing energy consumption and other environmental impacts associated with hire operations.
5.Crime: hire businesses are a target for thefts and fraud -whether organised or opportunistic. There is limited police expertise about the nature of hire industry crime and HAE wants to see this valuable resource expanded. Business crime is still a low priority for law enforcement in the UK and this should change.
6.Regulation: the hire industry is faced with a wide range of regulatory pressures but we do not dispute the need for robust regulation and enforcement of health and safety, employment rights or customer contracts. HAE welcomes the various ‘red tape’ reviews underway and supports the ongoing work of the Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO) which we hope will be retained in some form by the Government.