Labour values the construction industry as a leading sector in our economy. It contributes 7 per cent of value added, employs one in ten people in our economy and has 280,000 businesses around the country.
Construction is not only important to Britain’s economy today: it has the potential and opportunity to play a bigger role in Britain’s economy in the future. The industry is essential if we are to improve Britain’s productivity by building the infrastructure we need to improve our productivity and compete in the modern economy.
Far too many people face a cost of living crisis by being unable to afford a home and suffer from rising energy bills, so the industry is key to building the homes people need and to ensure existing homes and buildings are energy efficient.
And the global construction market will grow by 4 per cent every year until at least the mid 2020s, giving British construction firms the opportunity to expand its share of world trade and create jobs and growth at home.
Construction has suffered from the recession more than other sectors, and remains 15 per cent off the peak in output from 2008. The UK ranks 28th in the world for the quality of its infrastructure according to the latest World Economic Forum report. Britain is building the lowest number of new houses since the 1920s.
“We will put in place a long-term industrial strategy, led by industry, to allow firms to plan for the next 20 years”
The present Government cut back capital spending far too sharply in 2010, reducing activity in the construction industry at precisely the time when it needed investment and setting back progress for years.
Labour’s strategy for long-term growth, or what Chuka has termed Agenda 2030, will view the construction industry as a valued partner. We will put in place a long-term industrial strategy, led by industry, to allow firms to plan for the next 20 years and invest in training, new jobs and improved capital equipment.
We welcome the Construction Industrial Strategy, particularly its horizons to 2025, and want to work closely with industry to ensure there is a joined-up, collaborative approach, not only between government and industry but within government itself.
The Armitt Review
We will implement John Armitt’s recommendation for the establishment of an independent National Infrastructure Commission, which will identify the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs. Labour will tackle the cost of living crisis by getting at least 200,000 homes a year built.
Agenda 2030 emphasises the importance of skills and innovation as the tools by which Britain can become a highly-skilled, high productivity economy. We will back the 2030 decarbonisation target to encourage the development of low-carbon, sustainable technologies in the construction supply chain.
We will ensure the procurement process is streamlined and does not deter small and medium sized firms from competing for government contracts. We will ensure that all large suppliers to government offer new apprenticeship opportunities.
“We will outlaw zero hours contracts where they exploit people [and] establish an inquiry into blacklisting in the construction industry”
We also believe business can work for the good of society and be part of the solution, not the problem. To help achieve this, we want firms to value their people and the supply chain in which they operate. That is why we will outlaw zero hours contracts where they exploit people, why we will establish an inquiry into blacklisting in the construction industry and why we will tackle the problems of late payments to supplier.
Labour values the construction industry, sees its potential as a leading sector for Britain and wants to work closely with firms to achieve high productivity, highly skilled, innovative and efficient industry.
Iain Wright is MP for Hartlepool and shadow minister for industry