25th March Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The government are always promising us that they’ll improve the on-going problems in the industry, and it’s all fair and well promising to do something, but I’ve realised that when it comes to the government, not everything they say can be taken as gospel.
However, this week the Treasury updated its national infrastructure delivery plan, which sets out plans for 2016-2021, and these plans are actually set in stone.

The plan announced that the government has committed to saving £1.7bn from the cost of public projects, and hiring 20,000 construction apprentices, by 2020.

If you think back to this time last year, we were crying out for more homes, progress in terms of education and employment and new technology – and it seems like they were actually listening!
The new construction strategy published this week revealed that they’ve also pledged to roll out BIM level 3 and improve client procurement skills. It’s a fast movement for the industry, given that the BIM level 2 mandate deadline isn’t until next week, but you won’t hear any complaints from me, further improvements in technology can only benefit us, take the industry further and help us achieve further cost savings.
The previous construction strategy has been praised for the massive digital leap forward the industry has made over the past few years – it’s because of plans published in that report that we’re in the position that we’re now in in terms of BIM level 2.
The government’s commitment to improving technology and rolling out BIM was shown in the budget announced by George Osborne last week. The process for rolling out BIM level 3 has been given £15m, which tops the budget for BIM in the last parliament.
The plan also includes the latest version of the national infrastructure pipeline, which explains £425bn worth of planned investment will in injected into over 600 projects across the country. It’s so in depth that it describes exactly what will be built and how they plan to prioritise investment and work with the industry to improve delivery, so we can see exactly how the investment is being spent.
For the first time, the new strategy mentions house-building. The government has committed to releasing public sector land which will provide us with enough space to build 160,000 homes, more than 50 per cent than we were given last parliament – more improvements that are only a good thing!
The strategy plans to directly commission the construction of 13,000 new homes, and not only in London as they often are, with the first wave of homes starting outside of London, which is good news for the regions that have been desperate for new homes for some time now.
From both a personal and business point of view the new plans excite me. They’re providing the industry with what it needs to progress, and for me they have solutions to help apprentices, news homes and technology – things you’ll often hear me complaining about. The government is doing a good job of keeping me happy in 2016 so far … let’s hope it continues.