A long-term partnership between government and the construction industry to get Britain building and winning contracts overseas has been unveiled.
Speaking at the Government Construction Summit, Business Minister Michael Fallon revealed the industrial strategy for construction – ‘Construction 2025’ – which sets out out how the government and industry will ensure the UK continues to thrive in the face of increasing global competition.
The strategy includes an action plan of 10 joint commitments to ensure industry is best placed to achieve its ambitions by 2025. Highlights include reducing growth barriers for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) and sole traders.
Within the plan, the government and industry commit to improving access to trade credit and increasing fair payment practices. Together they pledge to secure an increase in the number of suppliers offering greater trade credit to small businesses, as well as developing a fair payment charter for construction.
The strategy follows news last week that over £100 billion of public investment is being committed to infrastructure projects, including the building or repair of 200,000 affordable homes (to 2020).
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “ Today’s industrial strategy will help firms innovate and export more. It will also help train a next generation of construction workers and look at what skills gaps we need to fill.
“We cannot make these changes alone, all of this has been designed by working closely with the industry. I look forward to working even more closely with business through the new Construction Leadership Council.”
Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “Construction accounts for nearly seven per cent of the UK economy, over 280,000 businesses and employs around three million people. It is a sector where Britain has a strong competitive edge, the capabilities for rapid new development and a potential for unlocking great wealth for our economy.
“With the global construction market forecasted to grow by 70 per cent by 2025, Britain is now in a global race for growth and jobs, and we can’t afford to be left behind. Growth requires joint action, which is why industry and the Government have come together to create this vision for the future of the construction sector.”
The strategy outlines joint ambitions for a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment, and an equal reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials.
To help achieve these ambitions and secure new jobs and growth opportunities, the government and industry will develop market and technology based plans focused on driving carbon out of the built environment. This will be led by the Green Construction Board.
Efforts will be bolstered with the addition of the construction sector to the government’s GREAT marketing campaign. Launched by David Cameron in 2011, the initiative highlights the best of British innovation on the world stage.
Government Chief Construction Adviser Peter Hansford said: “Construction 2025 provides us with the strategic focus to transform British construction into a real force to be reckoned with on the world stage.
“Businesses can provide the expertise to get us there, but the challenge now is to ensure these strengths align with the future needs of a greener, digitally advanced industry.
“This strategy signals a new start for industry, for future growth and for new jobs but this will only happen if the government and industry continue to work together in partnership.”
To deliver the strategy a new Construction Leadership Council has been created. Jointly chaired by Business Secretary Vince Cable and Sir David Higgins, Chief Executive of Network Rail, the group will oversee the delivery of the action plan and its strategic priorities.
Sir David Higgins, Chief Executive of Network Rail and co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said: ”This strategy’s publication is just the first step in putting UK construction at the forefront of the global market – strong leadership will be vital in driving lasting change. The Construction Leadership Council will provide a forum for industry and government to work together in pursuit of our ambitions.”