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Construction Parliamentary Update - 21 November 2011

A round-up of all the construction news from Westminster this week, brought to you by the Madano Partnership


Government launches £250m apprentice fund

The government has launched a £250 million fund to help firms set up training and apprenticeship schemes. Next year employers will be invited to bid for a share of the new fund, with £50m up for grabs in the first year and a further £200m in the second year. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has said the fund will test different approaches, come up with new ways of engaging employees and potential employees, other firms and their supply chains to develop new ways of investing in skills, and working with the further Education and skills sector. (16 November)


Treasury launches ‘fundamental’ review of PFI

The government has announced a call for evidence on infrastructure financing as it commits to a fundamental review of PFI. The Treasury will be launching a call for evidence on 1 December that it says “will make full use of the wealth of experience across the public and private sectors” to learn the lessons of 20 years of PFI. (15 November)


Localism bill gets royal assent

The Localism Bill became an Act of Parliament after it was granted royal assent by the Queen. A key plank of the coalition government’s legislative agenda, the Act shifts power away from central government, officially abolishes Regional Spatial Strategies and introduces neighbourhood plans and the New Homes Bonus. The Royal Assent brings to an end more than a year of parliamentary debate over the Bill. The construction industry welcomed the news in the hope the new powers it gives communities would make them more likely to embrace development. (15 November)


Prisk hails 5% construction savings

The cost of delivering public sector construction projects has fallen by 5 per cent since the coalition government took office, construction minister Mark Prisk has revealed. Speaking to Construction News, the minister said the industry had “made good progress” towards achieving the government’s aim of reducing the cost of public sector construction by 20 per cent. (17 November)

Construction redundancies fail to fall

The construction industry made 18,000 people redundant in the three months to October, the same number as a year earlier, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. Although redundancy rates have fallen from 38,000 in July to September 2009, the number has failed to fall below 17,000 this year. (16 November)

Construction falls in September, says ONS

The value of construction work fell by 1.5 per cent in September compared with the previous month, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show. The value of all work fell to £10.54 billion in September, down from £10.71 bn in August, the official research found. Construction volumes have fallen by 1 per cent in the last year and by 0.2 per cent between the second and the third quarter. (11 November)


British Land bullish on London office schemes

British Land has committed £1.9 billion of building work throughout the UK since March 2010. In its half-year results to September 30, the developer also revealed that its upcoming £1.1 billion London-centric office building programme was more than 50 per cent let. In a statement to the City, the firm confirmed that it was on site in all six of its London office developments, with one third of the 600,000 sqft Cheesegrater building pre-let to insurer Aon. (15 November)


SME housebuilder numbers hit 30 year low

The number of small housebuilders in the UK is at its lowest level for at least 30 years, according to new research from the Federation of Master Builders. Just 14,128 companies were on the National House Building Council register in 2010, compared with 21,183 in 1982. The number of firms producing less than 100 units a year fell from 21,031 to 14,029 during the same period. The figures were unveiled as part of the FMB report, Tackling the Housing Crisis, which also found demand for new housing will outstrip supply by over half a million units by 2015. (15 November)

CBI: Unfreezing the housing market is ‘game-changer for growth’

A new report from the country’s leading business group has called on government to implement radical measures to help boost the housing market. Unfreezing the housing market, published by the CBI, said boosting the housing market would be a “game-changer” for growth and economic recovery. The group said mortgage indemnity guarantee insurance would help tackle the problem in the short term by helping first time buyers get on the housing ladder. (11 November)


Network Rail devolves O&M to route manager

Network Rail has announced that it has devolved the operation, maintenance and renewals of track infrastructure to 10 regional businesses aligned to strategic routes. Each new route business has its own management team and will count as separate business units within Network Rail. They will have their own accounts, allowing greater benchmarking of financial performance and efficiency between the routes, as best practice is shared across the business. (14 November)


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