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Leaders react as election results throw industry into uncertainty

General Election 2017

Live blog: CN will keep a rolling live blog today with all the news and industry reaction as it happens.

Housing minister Gavin Barwell loses out in Croydon Central

Construction firms’ share prices drop as result is announced

 

Following the sensational outcome of the general election, the industry has reacted with concern over the level of uncertainty construction now faces.

With almost all the seats at Westminster now counted, the general election has seen the Labour Party boost its position, adding 31 seats to stand 261.

Theresa May’s Conservative Party, however, has lost its majority in government, shedding 12 seats to stand at 318, eight short of a majority. The prime minister is expected to form a new government with the help of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.

Industry leaders have reacted with concern over the level of uncertainty the industry has been plunged into following the general election results.

Scape chief executive Mark Robinson called the result “a shambles” and said infrastructure and construction projects could be put into “doubt or in jeopardy” without a clear leading party in place.

He said: “If you have an overall majority and clear decisive leadership, you have a vision of how [construction and infrastructure projects] will be taken forward. This uncertainty calls into doubt any preferred strategy in their manifesto to deliver this.”

He added decisions around the delivery of controversial infrastructure projects such as Heathrow and HS2 could be questioned.

A quick decision on who should lead government should be made according to Mr Robinson and said the “last thing we want is a general election”.

British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech said the result is “not great for our sector” and said uncertainty caused by the result is the “last thing we need”.

“In the short term and possibly over the next few weeks while a new government forms, I think investors who are already cautious and delaying decisions particularly around development will continue to wait, watch and see,” she said.

She added investors will now be cautious on making new investment decisions.

Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry said the construction industry has been left “particularly vulnerable” by political uncertainty and that it is “crucial that this uncertainty is minimised”.

However, he added the prospect of a hard Brexit now seemed less likely, which offers a “potential silver lining” for the business community.

“Brexit is inevitable but the election result will surely have a significant impact on the shape of the Brexit deal we end up with,” he said.

“For the construction sector, our greatest concern is that the flow of migrant workers might be reduced too quickly and before we are able to put in place a framework for training sufficient UK workers to replace them.”

Cast Consultancy chief executive and author of the Farmer Review Mark Farmer agreed the uncertainty created by the result of a hung parliament “could not have happened at a worse time”.

He said: “Whichever parties eventually form the government, there needs to be a comprehensive industrial strategy and housing policy focussed on both addressing skills shortages and increasing the UK’s structural capacity to deliver homes and infrastructure.”

He said the loss of housing minister Gavin Barwell was “disappointing” after he lost his Croydon Central seat to Labour candidate Sarah Jones.

CECA director of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said the result “may create further delays to vital decisions put on hold due to the election”.

She said: “We hope that there will be an early resolution to the current uncertainty over the shape of any new government, allowing decisions on projects such as HS2 to be made and work to get under way on building the infrastructure that the UK needs.”

Build UK  chief executive Suzannah Nichol called for politicians to organise an “effective government to provide confidence and certainty both at home and abroad”.

She added: “Forging ahead with an Industrial Strategy, which includes the delivery of the country’s housing, economic, social and business infrastructure to meet the needs of the nation, will enable our industry to deliver growth and prosperity.”  

Mace director for the North Steve Gillingham said the new government, when it emerges, should “recognise the potential for further growth in the regions” and work with new metro mayors to achieve this.

He said: “While the make-up of the future leadership in Westminster is uncertain and there is likely to be more difficulty getting bills through parliament, devolution has given us a platform for stronger local leadership in the great cities of the North.”

More reaction to follow.

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