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Positive reaction to Government's industrial strategy for construction

Today (2 July), the Government launched its industrial strategy for construction: Construction 2025.
The strategy sets out how government and the construction industry will work together to ensure the UK continues to thrive in the face of increasing global competition.

It includes an action plan of 10 joint commitments to ensure the industry is best placed to achieve its ambitions by 2025, including:

· developing plans to secure jobs and growth by exploiting developments in green construction
· using the GREAT campaign to promote British construction abroad and attract new business
· leading the transformation of the industry through the new Construction Leadership Council

The Government says that small and medium-sized businesses will benefit from the strategy. Government and industry have pledged to increase the number of suppliers offering greater trade credit to small businesses, as well as developing a fair payment charter for construction.

According to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the Government is right to identify the need to improve the image of the building industry, to help drive up standards and improve consumer protection.

FMB chief executive, Brian Berry, said: 'For too long the image of the building
industry has been blighted by the unscrupulous practices of those operating in the informal economy. Today's announcement to expand the TrustMark scheme for tradespeople and to introduce new standards is a welcome step to help drive out the rogue traders.'

He continued: 'The Government's commitment to do much more to promote the range of access to finance products available to construction SMEs is also welcome, but it is disappointing there are not additional commitments to stop banks discriminating against construction firms. Construction SMEs are more likely to be turned down for an overdraft or loan than SMEs in other sectors.

'It is good to see a number of commitments to help SMEs take advantage of public-sector work opportunities... The FMB will continue to work with central government and the Local Government Association to help deliver these commitments and improve the public procurement process for construction SMEs.'

Berry concluded: 'The Government's industrial strategy can help the industry recover from recession, but only if the commitments outlined are implemented without delay.'

Liz Male, chairman of TrustMark and a member of the new Construction Leadership Council which will drive forward implementation of the Industrial Strategy, said: 'The Industrial Strategy categorically states Government's commitment to TrustMark. It is also rightful recognition of the forward-thinking industry bodies and consumer groups who created the scheme and have remained committed to promoting its Government-endorsed standards.

'TrustMark scheme operators have the capacity and will to bring in many thousands more firms into the scheme, so that the benefits of the TrustMark badge can be extended to all the reputable tradesmen in the domestic RMI sector.'

She added: 'At last the role of the domestic RMI sector is being recognised for its crucial position with UK construction and our industrial strategy for the future.'

SEC (Specialist Engineering Contractors’) Group says that the Government’s new industrial strategy for construction will only achieve its aim of reducing cost and improving delivery if it tackles deep-seated structural problems in the industry.

SEC Group’s chairman, Trevor Hursthouse OBE said: 'The Strategy is about transforming our levels of performance with high end skills, innovation and use of digital technologies to the fore. But to achieve this it also requires that we ditch decades of outdated and wasteful practices. Moreover past experience tell us that effective implementation will be required if we are to achieve the vision set out in the Strategy'.

SEC Group is calling for a number of measures including:
• Front-end teamworking involving all project participants – including construction supply chains – to ensure cost, quality and timely delivery
• The widespread use of project bank accounts to provide payment security
• The creation of barriers to entry to the industry through a license to trade or practice

Chief executive of SEC Group, Professor Rudi Klein, added: 'The Strategy presents a real opportunity for government and industry to work together to overcome these problems.'

Meanwhile, RICS director of UK external affairs, Jeremy Blackburn, said: 'RICS supports the necessary focus which the Government is putting on the construction sector's long term health.

'To support construction's role in commercial diplomacy we do need to work together on a secure supply chain, up to 2020. However, the sections on access to finance, SME engagement and procurement reform, are very relevant to struggling smaller companies in the UK market now.'

Mr Blackburn continued: 'Arguably, action on these areas cannot wait just for a new government-industry board but needs much quicker leadership by Ministers. The Comprehensive Spending Review has outlined the projects but we need companies in a position to take advantage of this.

'Well planned infrastructure and housing development, commissioned in the right place and at the right time can deliver growth, homes and jobs well before May 2015, providing immediate economic returns and much needed work for the construction sector,' he concluded.

To view the full Construction 2025 report go to http://bit.ly/16Lta87



Follow HVROnlineEditor on Twitter
2 July 2013

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