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Construction's 'strategic' role in UK's future

Chartered Institute of Building | Chartered Institute of Building

3 min read Partner content

The construction industry can help tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the UK in the future, according to a new report.

The Chartered Institute of Building(CIOB) has produced a guide for MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates which highlights the strategic importance of construction to the economy.

It has commissioned the report, The Real Face of Construction, which explains the increasing complexity and sophistication of the sector and its broad reach across Government departments from hospitals, schools, prisons, housing and urban planning to major transport and energy projects such as Crossrail or Hinkley Point B.

The CIOB warns against short term policies, calling for holistic strategies to tackle some major 21st century challenges: reducing carbon emissions, protecting against climate change and creating flexible and longer-lasting structures that can be more easily adapted to the changing needs of generations.

Iain Wright, Shadow Minister for Industry, said if the Labour party wins power next year it will "look to implement Sir John Armitt’s recommendation for a National Infrastructure Commission".

"Ed Miliband has promised to devolve significant new powers and resources to the English regions to boost economic growth outside of London and to ensure that the construction industry can thrive in every part of the country," he added.

Tory MP Oliver Colville, chair of the APPG for Excellence in the Built Environment, said the report is "quite right to say that we need other centres outside of London for would-be builders, and indeed locating them near universities seems like a very clever idea, as youngsters who are not seeking to go to university should have alternatives available which are best served by further education colleges".

He added: "Construction isn’t just about housing and shops. It is also about wider infrastructure needs, like building nuclear power stations."

Construction accounts for 15.3% of GDP, employs three million people and contributes £250bn to UK plc.

The report also demonstrates that wide variations in regional performance and output have occurred since the 2007 recession, indicating the need for careful, integrated policy making at a local, regional and national level.

The CIOB’s Guide to the Built Environmentand Real Face of Constructionreport are being sent to MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates to brief them on the socio-economic importance of construction as well as bring them up to speed with how the industry works. The suite of documents will be formally launched at each of the three main party conferences.

Chris Blythe, Chief Executive of the CIOBsaid: “Construction is often simplistically viewed in terms of employment statistics and visible work on building sites, but this overlooks the increasingly high-tech nature of an industry that is leading on innovation and contributing directly to national productivity.

“The quality of our buildings has a lasting impact on the wellbeing of individuals and communities across all regions and sectors.

“Much political and media attention focuses on house building and, while this is an extremely important issue, it actually accounts for a minority of total UK construction output. We would like to see discussions become integrated into a much wider agenda. The decisions made today will be felt for decades and generations.”

To download a copy of the guide and the report click here

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