The campaign’s message to politicians is that investing in UK construction will help drive the economic recovery the country badly needs as construction affords a strong multiplier effect driven by UK produced goods and skilled labour.
The issues facing construction reflect the overall performance of the UK economy, which is beset by inflation, the increased cost of living and higher interest rates, and shows little prospect for growth. The OECD forecasts UK GDP to rise by 0.3% in 2023 and by 0.8% in 2024.
Construction output has suffered over the last twelve months, with a sharp fall in new house building and home renovation and improvement projects as well as a slowdown in commercial and infrastructure projects.
Furthermore, the high cost of financing for companies in the construction sector, particularly for SMEs, is making liquidity a greater challenge, resulting in an increased number of insolvencies and administrations.
This is “creating a perfect storm”, coalescing a shortfall in much-needed housing supply, falling demand for building materials, the majority of which are manufactured in the UK, and the loss of skilled tradespeople. The latter is of particular concern as construction has a rapidly ageing workforce, with close to a million workers due to retire in the next ten years.
The trade bodies behind the Get Britain Building collectively represent an industry worth over £45 billion pounds and employing over 200,000 people. Their campaign sets out 10 primary recommendations for government:
1: Recognise the added value the construction industry offers to people’s lives, health and economic prosperity.
2: Build at least 200,000 new homes every year, using British made building products where possible.
3: Get behind construction SMEs to drive growth and levelling up in every community.
4: Invest at scale in infrastructure and energy security, including hydrogen and nuclear, to meet the needs of industry, transport and home heating.
5: Address the UK Construction ‘Skills Emergency’ with urgent action.
6: Act now to address Climate Change with a measured progressive programme that avoids unintended consequences and puts the customer at the heart of the journey.
7: Help the building products industry to decarbonise and transition to the UK manufacture of emerging technologies as such as heat pumps and batteries.
8: Ensure our built environment is safe and resilient to fire and severe weather events as our planet warms. reducing deforestation, cleansing our oceans, and protecting our natural habitat.
9: Make evidence-based decisions on future Building Regulations, taking fully into account the lived experience of occupants who we must fully engage with to avoid unintended consequences.
10: Embark on a major programme of retrofitting our existing buildings based on long term funding, incentives, training, and an independent advice model for owner occupiers, creating huge employment opportunities, reducing carbon and energy consumption.
Commenting on the launch John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchant Federation, said: “Government has an opportunity to deal with the root cause of the country’s housing issues, lack of supply, and support a large-scale housebuilding campaign that would get Britain Building and bring about the level of job security that can make construction an attractive career option. Now is also the time to invest in retrofitting our existing homes and buildings, and for government to work with building products manufacturers to ensure we invest in the most appropriate technologies to overcome the challenges of climate change.”
Mike Leonard, CEO of the Building Alliance, continued: “Now is the time for Government to mobilise the construction industry and UK supply chain. We need to build infrastructure and new homes and other buildings as well as retrofitting our existing stock to provide safe, comfortable and resilient buildings and meet our climate change targets.”
Brian Berry, CEO of the Federation of Master Builders, added: “At a time when we need to focus on economic growth and boosting productivity politicians across the political spectrum need to focus on construction as a catalyst to drive the economy. Construction contributes nearly 9% of GDP and critically has the potential to benefit every community across the UK.
“Britain’s builders are ready to build so let’s give them the opportunity to do to build the homes and infrastructure this country desperately needs.”
For further information visit: www.getbritainbuilding.co.uk
The main image above shows (L-R): John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchant Federation; Mike Leonard, CEO of the Building Alliance; Brian Berry, CEO of the Federation of Master Builders.