Chartered Institute of Building Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building

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Four ways construction can build back stronger

2 September 2020 | By Matt Brooker

Image: Dreamstime/Bogdan Hoda

Matt Brooker looks at how construction can make itself the springboard for economic recovery

To advance with the government’s ‘build, build, build’ strategy and let construction drive an economic recovery, the sector needs to continue to show it can be collaborative in its approach, be innovative in its thinking and rise to the challenge to build for the future. 

Here are four areas where construction can improve.

Procurement: We all know this needs to be simplified. The recently launched Project Speed by the Cabinet Office, which aims to overhaul the procurement process by September, should support much of this change. Add to this the lessons learned from PPN 01/20, the updated Procurement Policy Note that was revised to help speed up the emergency procurement in March, and we have taken big steps to addressing the procurement puzzle. 

Payment terms: Projects need to commit to either a traditional or modern method of construction (MMC) approach at the start of the process, so that resources spent at design and tender stage are not squandered by a late switch. The Chartered Institute of Housing’s (CIH) Value Toolkit will help with this, providing free software to help value model the process, as will the commercial / delivery model that the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) is working on. And the government is already removing the blockers of cash distribution, often tied up in tier 1 and 2 contractors, with the PPN 02/20, also implemented in March this year.  

Productivity and capability: We know there is a shortage of skilled resources in some local authorities, especially at planning and procurement level, hindering the consent pathway to proceed at pace. The industry Talent Retention Scheme could be used to boost local authority resources in the short term to help with this. 

Confidence and incentivisation: Confidence in the market, particularly in the private sector, needs to be instilled again. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised a Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn this year, stating it is “our opportunity to deliver on the third phase of our recovery plan”. Hopefully this will be the marker for not only reframing the strategy but rallying our industry to collectively build, build, build for the future. 

Matt Brooker is national head of commercial UK at Rider Levett Bucknall

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