Mace sets out nine policy priorities for next government

19 November 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Mark Reynolds

Mace has issued a series of demands to politicians, asking all parties to introduce a range of policies that would help the construction industry under the next government.

Mace’s ‘Manifesto for Construction and the Built Environment’ explores nine policy areas where political parties could help to drive growth in the sector, which contributes more than £110bn to the economy each year and is one of the country’s largest employers. They are:

  1. Skills
  2. Immigration
  3. Exports
  4. Innovation
  5. Procurement
  6. Infrastructure
  7. Project delivery
  8. Carbon emissions
  9. The planning system

In each area, the report outlines specific policies that would help to deliver better outcomes across the UK construction sector and help to deliver growth at a crucial time for the industry.

Key policy suggestions include creating a ‘Department for Growth’, which holds responsibility for all areas covering construction, including planning, business regulation, housing and transport.

The report also recommends basing any future immigration system on the key skills and occupations that the economy needs, rather than on arbitrary salary thresholds, paying particular attention to shortage occupations from construction.

And it urges a review of the Apprenticeship Levy, making the system more flexible. Mace argued that business should be allowed to use the funds to pay for training in ‘soft-skills’ that help people become work ready, provide travel funding outside of London. It also called for the 20% ‘off the job’ learning hours requirement, which can put off employers, to be cut.

Low carbon skills

Following findings from the London School of Economics on skills shortages in construction, the report also calls on the future government to ensure that the CITB and any future Sector Deal look to address the low-carbon skills gap which exists in the existing construction workforce and could hinder the UK’s progress.

Mark Reynolds, Mace’s chief executive, said: "The construction industry is a huge contributor to the UK economy, and yet we often don’t receive the attention we deserve. Rarely has our sector faced such an uncertain future, and so it is crucial that during this election campaign politicians from all parties recognise that our industry is vital to the long-term success of the UK economy.

“Whoever ends up running the country in December, we know that our industry will need their support. In our manifesto, we’ve outlined a number of clear and straight forward policy changes that would give our sector the certainty to invest and continue to grow.”

Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership said: “The importance of infrastructure to the Northern Powerhouse, playing a key part in closing the North – South divide, cannot be overstated. The construction sector will be critical to this, and addressing the barriers to making progress need to be a question for parties at the upcoming general election.”

“From the benefits of delivering projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, through to capitalising on the opportunity of those growing up here today getting the highly skilled, quality jobs that will be created by building it, the size of the prize is significant. An incoming government needs to address the concerns put forward here, with a Department for Growth the right partner for more powerful and empowered city region mayors working on the ground here in the North.”

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