The Construction Leadership Council’s Covid-19 Task Force has laid out a roadmap of proposals that will help to secure the future of construction businesses nationwide, while setting the industry on a sustainable path towards recovery.
Roadmap to Recovery details the key actions that industry, clients and Government that will support the recovery of the £413 billion UK construction and built environment sector. Front and centre is the premise that, employing over 3m workers across the UK and exporting billions of pounds of products and services, the construction sector construction is uniquely placed to drive the national economic recovery.
The strategy aims to increase the level of activity, accelerate the process of industry adjustment to the new normal and build capacity in the industry to deliver strategic priorities, including: increasing prosperity across the UK; decarbonisation; modernisation through digital and manufacturing technologies; and delivering better, safer buildings.
There are 3 phases to the roadmap, which it is suggested are delivered over a two year period:
Phase 1: Restart – increase output, maximise employment and minimise disruption (0-3 months)
Restart is now well underway, with various Government interventions in placed focussed on supporting cashflow and both phased return to work plans in place across the UK with H&S Guidance reflecting requirements across the home nations. The Roadmap recognises concerns about training and retaining apprentices and the need to urgently develop a talent retention scheme, reacting to a potential short-term dip in employment. Beyond this, the focus is on both client and industry behaviours and the need for relief measures such as those provided for by PPN02/20 and equivalent public sector procurement measures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The recovery plan emphasises the importance of Public and private sector clients committing to following Government and CLC guidance on responsible contractual behaviour and recommends widespread adoption of the Conflict Avoidance Pledge. It highlights too the need for renewed industry commitment to ensure prompt payment to firms within the supply chain.
In a recent FIS survey, it was concerning that only 12% of respondents reported that they can continue to operate profitably in all cases under new site operating procedures. This concerning situation is recognised in the Roadmap which recommends the urgent need to undertake work on cost planning related to operating under new site procedures and to share this across the public and private sectors.
Phase 2: Reset: drive demand, increase productivity, strengthen capability in the supply chain (3-12 months)
A key theme of reset is to build on elements highlighted in the restart phase to define new ways of working to embed better and more collaborative business models and contractual terms into the sector. The theme of productivity looms large and the Roadmap identifies that new approaches will be needed to compensate for the loss of productivity due to restrictions and the importance of encouraging investment in particularly digital and offsite capabilities. The Roadmap highlights the importance of ongoing work on competency and better collaboration. It also identifies the need for stimulus with Housing and Building Safety as priority areas. The FIS has recently written to the Construction Minister highlighting Schools and accelerating the Building Safety Programme – this is picked up in the Roadmap referencing supporting towns, homes and employment to level up the UK, and invest in developing the infrastructure chapters of local growth plans.
The Roadmap also flags up the importance of delaying the Reverse Charge VAT (as reported in the Telegraph this weekend).
Phase 3: Reinvent: transform the industry, deliver better value, collaboration and partnership (12-24 months)
Seizing the opportunity to secure a better future for the construction sector is central to Phase 3. This phase is very much about tangible outcomes from a period of change and ensuring the potential of digital and offsite solutions are realised and that step changes are made in terms of the embracing net zero carbon targets and ensuring that collaborative procurement models ensure that the sector meets the requirements of the new building safety regime. It also recognises the need to modernise the training and qualifications system for construction to ensure that this is fit for purpose, and will support the delivery of the skills that the industry will need in future such as those related to the delivery of net zero carbon, and the multi-skilling of the construction workforce to increase flexibility and adaptability
The ultimate outcomes will be a more capable, professional, productive and profitable sector, which delivers better value to clients, better performing infrastructure and buildings, and competes successfully in global markets.
Iain McIlwee CEO of the Finishes and Interiors Sector, “This is a great start from the CLC and it is encouraging that this Roadmap is not a huge departure from a journey that in many ways we have already started. It builds on and re-emphasise a lot of the concepts we are familiar with from the Construction Sector Deal and locks in learnings from the work of the Building Safety Review. It has been a tough few months for everyone and it is clear that there is more challenges ahead as the industry starts to open up, but it is good to finally start looking a bit further ahead. We look forward to working with the Minister and colleagues from across the construction sector to ensuring that the spirit of collaboration is upheld and we are all held to account to ensure that the industry emerges stronger. The Roadmap starts to show us the way, but it also recognises construction is a complex ecosystem and it is beholden now on sectors such as ours to look at the detail as it applies to our community and ensure we develop sub-sector specific plans and look at behaviours and activities that align us with CLC’s overarching Recovery Plan and the one industry sentiment that underpins it”.
The task force is now engaging with Government to test how the plans proposals might be delivered. FIS is an active member of the CLC Advisory Group and participates in weekly updates where members views are carried forwards.