Business Secretary Greg Clark has launched the government’s Industrial Strategy, setting out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and boost the earning power of people across the UK.
The strategy aims to make the UK the world’s most innovative nation by 2030 and the government has committed to investing £725 million over the next 3 years in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to respond to some of the challenges and the opportunities faced by the UK. This will include £170 million to transform our construction sector and help create affordable places to live and work that are safer, healthier and use less energy.
Dr Diana Montgomery, Construction Products Association chief executive said: “The construction sector has great potential as a key enabler of UK economic growth, and given last week’s downgrade from the OBR for UK productivity this takes on a greater urgency.
“Given the risks around skills shortages and productivity weakness, we welcome government’s much-needed boost to improve digitalisation and construction skills. Critical to the success of any sector deal is leadership within industry through the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to offer an effective contribution.”
The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group gave a cautious welcome to the government’s Industrial Strategy, saying that insofar as construction is concerned the White Paper highlights the need for whole life value (rather than initial capital costs) to be at the core of construction procurement.
SEC Group chairman Trevor Hursthouse said: “A new procurement standard must embrace collaborative working including early supply chain involvement. The principles, processes and procurement models required to deliver “best value” have been clearly identified through many past industry reports and Government construction strategies. There continues to be widespread failure to adopt what’s known to be best practice. Mandating the use of a procurement standard on public sector projects is required if we are to see it applied more widely.”
Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “ It is essential that the real estate and construction sectors work together to build capacity and skills to deliver an ambitious building programme, and create the physical environments to support businesses and people in both work and life.”
Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “To have a sustained and game-changing impact on the economy, the focus needs to be on how to improve productivity across the UK’s 5.5m small businesses and the self-employed. We are keen to take part in the announced review into improving the productivity and growth of small and medium-sized firms.”