What Does Construction Need From The Next Government?

With the election on the horizon and manifestos being a bit light on construction specifics apart from some nods at housing, some of the industry’s leading practitioners spoke to The Installer to say what they would like from a new government.

As a sector that has pulled itself up by the bootstraps over the past decade, many industry players will be looking to the new administration to support the sector, as it continues to battle multiple socio-economic pressures.


Allan Wilen, economics director, Glenigan:

“The construction sector has experienced a steady decline over the past couple of years, struggling to return to pre-Covid levels. Whilst there are various socioeconomic factors at play, a lack of long-term policy vision and major infrastructure decisions made on the hoof, including major project cancellations or pauses, are partly responsible. Nowhere is this more evident than in the revolving doors of the Department of Business and Trade and Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities where we’ve seen minister-after-minister covering the construction and housebuilding briefs since Conservative government came to office.

“I hope the next administration, whichever party it is, puts MPs in these posts and keeps them there to ensure they understand the challenges facing the sector and the consistency to deliver the crucial reforms the sector needs from digital transformation to chronic labour shortages.

“Not only that we need to raise these office’s status from a junior position to one that attends the Cabinet at the very least. For one of the country’s most important industries it does feel like we’re treated as the poor cousin, elevating the status of the responsible politician would go some way to boost confidence and showing that the next Government means business when it comes to UK construction’s future.”


Adrian Attwood, executive director of refurbishment firm DBR (London) Ltd:

“UK construction faces a skills shortage of unprecedented scale. Whoever comes into office next month needs to offer a clear vision of how we plug this growing, problematic gap. With personnel numbers drastically reduced by Brexit, then the pandemic, a lack of home-grown talent persists.

“Current initiatives have failed to have much impact and we’re not seeing nearly enough school leavers choosing construction as a career path, particularly in specialist professions such as the heritage niche we occupy.”


Maria Hudson, a director of construction digi-tech company Zutec:

“Whichever party takes charge on the 4th July, we would urge them to build on the progress made within the construction and built environment sectors over the past few years.

“Whilst it’s easy to criticise the industry for not moving fast enough when it comes to innovation, reform and building new homes, I think many are unable to appreciate the challenges the industry has had to contend with. This includes rising supplier costs and labour shortages, new and updated regulatory regimes, a volatile economic climate and the move towards digital transformation.

“Regulations such as the Building Safety Act 2022 have driven new ways of thinking about information delivery to meet the mandatory digital information requirements. What’s clear, whoever emerges triumphant needs to maintain the momentum the industry has built and support an acceleration of the modernisation of UK construction and building operations.”


Steve Callow, a manager with Masonry & Concrete Products, MPA Masonry:

“The next government needs to double down on its efforts towards decarbonising the built environment and this starts with the products used, how they’re sourced, manufactured and dealt with at end-of-life. It’s something our members take very seriously.

“One area we can affect real, immediate change is by removing fossil fuels from the production process. For example, we want to see policies introduced that encourages the entire supply chain to prioritise alternative fuels and no-carbon electricity, hydrogen or waste biomass for on-site equipment, vehicles and industrial processes.”


Rob Norton, the UK director of site management App, PlanRadar:

“Labour's pledge to construct 1.5 million new homes over the next parliament as part of its ‘New Towns Code’ and the Tories pledging 1.6 million, addresses the urgency of the UK’s housing crisis, however, it's crucial to ensure quality isn't compromised in the pursuit of quantity and the proposed stringent design standards are stuck to. 

“One thing remains clear, that if we want to maintain the momentum built in a post-Grenfell landscape and mitigate the effects of Brexit and Covid, a clear plan is urgently needed from government, spearheaded by a housing & construction minister sitting at the top table.”


Christian Mabey, managing director at Optima Systems, the glass partitions company:

“First, tougher sanctions on Russian aluminium imports are essential with legislation to ensure transparency, requiring a declaration of origin for all imported aluminium. It’s a moral obligation, as much as a commercial one recognising responsible manufacturers and vendors.

Addressing carbon levels, better tax incentives would drive the industry towards sustainable practices by rewarding firms that adopt innovative building techniques and developers which include a greater proportion of affordable housing in schemes.

“As part of this, we also need greater funding allocated towards the research and development of green building products. Funding for innovative materials, techniques, and low-carbon technologies will drive industry advancements. Additionally, mandatory carbon reporting for manufacturers and eco-labelling programmes will provide transparency and allow informed choices.

Finally, government-back, industry-delivered training and awareness campaigns will be essential to equip construction professionals with the knowledge to use low-carbon materials and best practices; currently a painfully-obvious, missing link in the supply chain. Our future leaders must commit to initiatives like this to benefit the sector as a whole, contributing to our environmental and societal goals."


Neela Ahmed, country manager, UK & Ireland E1, the tender & bid software firm:

"Labour has pledged to get Britain building by securing the highest sustained growth in the G7, which we hope will lead to direct investments in construction.

“At E1, this growth agenda fuels our optimism, especially as the construction industry tops the latest insolvency rankings after a challenging year. Effective recovery measures focusing on boosting supply-side capacity are crucial to overcoming constraints that have driven inflation and stifled growth since Covid and Brexit.

“On the Conservative side, Rishi Sunak's International Technology Strategy, aimed at ‘setting the UK’s path straight’, emphasises prioritising sectors where technology can drive significant growth. This strategy holds the potential to offer essential opportunities for growth to various sectors, including construction, which stands as a prime candidate for such advancement.”


Picture: Allan Wilen, economics director, Glenigan.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis
13th June 2024


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