July 15, 2024

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The Engineer – Pro-development policy vital for construction industry

Construction professionals have identified policy changes the next government can enact immediately to kickstart growth ambitions and counter key barriers to growth. Indeed, 83 per cent of respondents identified policy or economic uncertainty as major barriers to investment.

Among the key aims across the sector was the need for a pro-development policy platform to increase investment activity. Over half (55 per cent) of respondents stated the need for achieving comprehensive local plan coverage as a priority, while separate Lichfields research found just 22 per cent of plans are currently projected to be fit for purpose by the end of 2025.

Also emphasised is the need for a long-term industrial strategy, with 40 per cent advocating for clear investment paths, while public investment decisions on housing (38 per cent), clean energy investments (39 per cent), and national grid capacity improvements (38 per cent) were prioritised by contractors, developers, and consultants.

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In a statement, Gavin Mason, operations director at Pick Everard, said: “Our survey has been carried out against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty, and in a market which is challenged by inflated construction costs, decreased public-led investment, increasing complexity in securing planning permission, continued shortages of skilled labour and a sector that is recording [over] 4,000 insolvencies a year – the highest of any sector in the UK.

“All of these issues will need to be addressed by the next government, which is going to have a key role to play in improving sector output.

“It is also clear from the results of the survey that the industry is calling for constructive reform of existing legislation to deliver the construction investments the country desperately needs.”

Further results reveal that 96 per cent of respondents expect tender prices to rise in the next year, with 76 per cent predicting increases between one per cent and six per cent. Contributing factors include the impact of government legislation (26 per cent), construction industry capacity (20 per cent), and geopolitical volatility (19 per cent).

Just under a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents asked for a review of current legislation on Biodiversity Net Gain, which only came into force earlier this year, alongside Gateway 2 of the Building Safety Act and Part L building regulations (2022).

Reducing interest rates (36 per cent) and increasing investment in training grants (24 per cent) were also seen as vital for industry growth.

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