Editor’s Viewpoint: 2020 vision

Editor’s Viewpoint: 2020 vision

Paul Davies used the viewpoint column in PBM’s January 2020 edition to refelct on the results of the recent General Election and the onus on the new administration to deliver for construction.

Welcome to PBM’s first issue of 2020 and we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year!

So, what will the next 12 months bring us? Following Boris Johnson’s seismic victory in the General Election just a few short weeks ago, securing a comfortable majority of 80 seats, the returning Conservative Government should be able to implement its will largely unencumbered — as a virtual certainty, the logjam of recent months will not be repeated.

Firstly, that means that Brexit is all but guaranteed to ‘happen’ on 31 January. While the real departure work will continue as the Government shapes the true direction of the post-EU United Kingdom, this will inevitably take place away from the glare of daily front page headlines and, broadly, without the Parliamentary machinations that clearly angered voters.

Thus far, and we are cautious about the imagery this may conjure up, Johnson has been a relatively impotent PM. That now changes completely and whilst the Conservative manifesto offered a more restrained series of pledges than Labour’s policy binge, there was more to it than the sloganeering commitment to additional hospitals, nurses and police offers.

As we discuss later in the issue, building and construction simply has to form a central plank of the Conservative administration’s management of the country going forward. Infrastructure investment, further increases to the number of new homes built each year (the target of 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s was restated) and progressing the decarbonisation agenda are key priorities, whilst changes to planning procedures and the possibility of lowering VAT on RMI products are significant underlying issues.

Beyond this, truly addressing the skills shortage — including adopting workable immigration policies once European ‘freedom of movement’ ends — will be vital. In addition, spending has to be distributed across the country; something acknowledged by Johnson who told his cabinet that the Government must work “flat out” to deliver for the “people how lent us their votes” in the midlands and the north (of England).

The Government will have a relatively free hand in Westminster, but the bandwidth taking up by the country’s actual EU departure will ultimately be telling. If he truly can ‘Get Brexit Done’, the Prime Minister will find an industry primed to pick up their tools to ‘Get Britain Building’ once more.

The stasis since 2016 means there can be no honeymoon period. Now is the time to deliver.

“Building and construction simply has to form a central plank of the Conservative administration’s management of the country going forward.”

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