Since joining Construction News in 2011, I have heard people urge the industry to speak with ‘one voice’ approximately 1.2 billion times.
Sadly though, it appears the government may be taking the notion a little too literally.
It has now decided there is too much overlap between the role of chief construction adviser and the Construction Leadership Council.
Clearly the 30 CLC representatives (and more involved in working groups), along with that one adviser constantly banging the construction drum, are too much to bear.
A new slimmed-down council is being formed following a period of review (though the new 12-person council still has three unnamed roles and plenty of seats to fill), and the chief construction adviser role will cease to exist from November.
Responses have varied from disappointment at the lack of consultation to anger at the government’s bias toward contractors and projects inside the M25.
We’ve said it before on CN: when it comes to construction, the most senior politicians in the land ‘get’ the need to solve the housing crisis (even if they could do with focusing a little more on, you know, actual housebuilding rather than stoking demand).
They understand that Crossrail is important and that transport links need to improve because frankly we’re all a little fed up of things as they are.
Ministers know that a picture on a construction site plays well with good ol’ Joe Public (smile for the camera and say “JOBS! GROWTH! LEADERSHIP!”)
But do they really ‘get’ why it’s important that this industry be represented and heard at the highest levels within Whitehall?
The fact that the housing minister doesn’t sit at Cabinet speaks volumes.
What can the industry do? The ‘one voice’ criticism is often thrown at the construction sector (“You contribute 6-7 per cent of GDP, more than £110bn in output, why can’t you all just get along?”)
While it’s true that it is an industry blighted by parochial attitudes, it’s also simply a bloody great big, disparate industry.
Developers, contractors, architects, consultants, material suppliers and SMEs all want to create buildings and infrastructure that look great, perform as they should and leave a positive impact on their surroundings.
But they also want good margins and to provide employment, and they have different focuses on aspects such as design, sustainability, cost or placemaking.
Another familiar refrain is that industry needs to get on and improve and innovate on its own, rather than waiting for government’s leadership.
But the thing is, world-class innovation is already occuring.
It’s not hard to see that construction growth and economic growth go hand in hand. The industry has a story to tell and expertise to sell. The government just needs to listen.
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