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Fresh talks over Donaghy report as implementation fears emerge

Work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper will meet trade bodies and lobby groups next week to discuss how recommendations from the Donaghy report can be implemented across the industry.

Construction News revealed last month Ms Cooper wanted to hold fresh talks before publishing its response to Rita Donaghy’s inquiry into construction deaths, which was conducted at the start of the year.

But sources close to the project have raised concerns that the Government’s response is taking longer to draw up than expected.

One insider said: “It was always meant to be announced before [Christmas] recess, but it is looking like it now might not be out until the new year.”

Chief construction inspector Philip White – who last week addressed the Safety Schemes in Procurement and British Safety Council conferences in London – has insisted that the report hasn’t “gone into a black hole”.

Whereas contractors are keen to hold further talks with the Government, safety lobbyists have raised concerns that if a decision is not made immediately, the recommendations, which require primary legislation, will not be in the Queen’s Speech next week.

But UK Contractors Group director Stephen Ratcliffe said he planned to support most of the recommendations from the inquiry. He confirmed that his organisation – along with others, including the CBI construction council – would be present at one discussion group next Tuesday.

He said: “From what we can tell it is going to be a full and frank discussion.

“We are largely going into this meeting in a positive frame of mind, with the exception of bringing in  gangmasters’ laws. That would just add greatly to the costs of the industry.”

Speaking to CN last week, Ms Donaghy warned the recommendation on gangmasters was a pivotal part of the final report.

She said: “The thing is you need changes at the top, which is why there needs to be positive directors’ duties and a full-time Government minister.

“But you also need something at the bottom, and that is where gangmasters comes into it. These, along with building control changes to tackle the problems with the white van man, have always been my key recommendations.”