By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East
Last week, at the Northern Powerhouse Summit in Newcastle, the business and energy secretary, Greg Clark finally announced details of the government’s Construction Sector Deal.
Part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, it sets out what it believes to be the foundations for an ambitious partnership between the government and industry to transform the sector into one that can; build new homes in weeks or days, deliver new buildings at a third of the cost and provide affordable, energy efficient homes.
The deal, worth £420m (£170m from the government and £250m of private sector backing) aims to transform the industry by investing in new technologies to increase productivity and tackle the housing crisis by allowing new homes to be constructed more quickly and with less disruption. The aim is to get the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors together to explore innovative approaches to revolutionise the industry. Almost half of the UK economy is reliant on the built environment, so the government needs and intends to use less energy, whilst improving productivity and safety.
Developing affordable, easy to construct homes will support the government’s ambition of delivering 1.5million new homes by 2022, as well as schools and other buildings which can be quickly and sustainably manufactured offsite, then assembled where and when we need them. Quite an ambitious target given that’s only 4 years away, but if we all get behind it, there’s no reason that it can’t be achieved. The deal also supports the Industrial Strategy’s mission to halve the energy use of new builds by 2030 and is expected to result in cheaper energy bills for families and businesses by improving efficiency – a win-win all round.
With the deal, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also set targets for the number of new starters in the industry. There’s commitment to increase the number of apprenticeship starts to 25,000 and T Level placements to 1000 in the next two years. £34m is being invested in innovated training programmes across the country to up-skill the existing workforce and offer high quality, industry placements to give young people the skills that the industry is crying out for.
The Construction Sector Deal was first announced in the Autumn Budget back in November then formally launched in the Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the Future. This is the biggest investment in construction in a decade. It’s something we’ve wanted and needed for a really long time and whilst I can’t speak on behalf of the whole industry, I don’t think we’re disappointed. Fingers crossed this is the answer to a lot of our problems, it certainly has the potential to be.
For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.