Government announce biggest investment in construction for a decade

An ambitious new partnership between the government and the construction industry aimed at sparking a “construction revolution” has been unveiled as part of a sector deal worth £420m.

The Construction Sector Deal was announced today (5 July) by the business and energy secretary Greg Clark and will focus on bringing together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors to deliver innovative approaches that improve productivity.

It will also form a big part of the government’s efforts to  deliver 1.5 million homes by 2022 by incorporating new techniques to speed up building time, reduce disruption and ensure homes and workplaces of the future are more energy efficient.

In a speech to the Northern Powerhouse Summit in Newcastle, Clark revealed how the £420m investment in ‘bytes and mortar Smart Construction’ - will transform construction through use of digital building design, new manufacturing technologies and offsite manufacturing helping cut the time taken to deliver new build.

The deal is also attempting to tackle the ever-increasing skills shortage which is stifling the industry by pumping £34m into expanding construction training programmes across the country to upskill the existing workforce with a commitment to increase the number of apprenticeship starts to 25,000 by 2020.

Commenting on the deal, Clark said the investment will “drive economic growth and create well-paid highly-skilled jobs in every part of the UK”.

“The construction industry is fundamental to growing our economy as we build to invest in our future,” he added. “Major infrastructure projects like HS2 and the commitment to deliver 1.5 million homes by 2022 mean that we need a construction sector that can drive innovation, delivering homes and infrastructure quicker.  As buildings account for around 30% of total emissions, we also want to ensure that we are at the global forefront in designing and building smart, energy efficient and affordable homes and buildings through the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, saving families money on their bills.”

Summary of what the construction sector deal will look to deliver: 

  • 50% reduction in time taken to deliver new build 
  • £420m investment in ‘bytes and mortar Smart Construction’ - investment will transform construction through use of digital building design, new manufacturing technologies and offsite manufacturing helping cut the time taken to deliver new build 
  • Cheaper energy bills for families and businesses – support Industrial Strategy mission to halve the energy use of new builds by 2030 
  • 25,000 construction apprenticeship starts and 1,000 Construction T-Level placements by 2020 – with £34m to scale up innovative training models across the country 
  • $2.5 trillion of global exports – a globally-competitive sector targeting the growing international infrastructure market that is set to grow by 70% in the years ahead

Commenting on the government's announcement, Nelson Ogunshakin, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, said: “Of course reducing new build delivery times by 50% is a welcome announcement, but time will tell whether this is an aspirational target, or a realistic deliverable. It is encouraging to see the government embracing new technologies, like digital design and offsite manufacturing and we are pleased that a collaborative approach has been taken with construction skills. This holistic approach will ensure we have a sustainable and future-proofed construction workforce for years to come.”

Director of external affairs for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Marie-Claude Hemming responded to the annnouncement by saying it is now up to the industry and the government to "ensure words are met with action".

She added: “To deliver on this ambitious programme of work, government and industry must work together to address the long-standing productivity challenges faced by our sector, and to ensure the right skills are in place in all parts of the UK. The Construction Sector Deal sets out a vision for the future and a plan to ensure it happens. Yet, in order to ensure success we must work closely together as an industry and with local and national government, education providers, industry stakeholders and the wider public. If done right the Deal will transform our sector, addressing procurement challenges, developing new technologies and investing in our future skills."

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