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Construction Leadership Council meeting scrapped as government considers future of the joint industry forum

The June meeting of the Construction Leadership Council has been cancelled after the government informed members it wanted to “take stock” and consider how the council should move forward.

In correspondence sent to the CLC members, seen by Construction News, members were told that “now is a timely opportunity to take stock, to ensure the council is well placed for the next phase of its life”.

The email, which was sent as the council approaches its two-year anniversary, said the decision to cancel the 17 June meeting had taken into account the views of its co-chair Sir David Higgins and government ministers.

The council was established by the government as part of the industrial strategy for construction, which focuses on continuous improvement to the industry between now and 2025.

It was set up in 2013 and was co-chaired by former business secretary Vince Cable, who lost his Twickenham seat in the general election.

New business secretary Sajid Javid had been expected to take his place as co-chair.

The email, sent via the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, told council members that, following the change of government, “ministers would like to take the opportunity to consider how they see the council going forward, in the light of manifesto commitments including those to back our industrial strategies”. 

It added that contact would be made with those working on individual workstreams as the government was “keen that the cancellation of this meeting does not compromise work at this important juncture”.

Sources told Construction News that scrapping the council would be an “own goal”.

One said: “I am feeling a little nervous; if they were thinking of getting rid of it completely it would be an own goal.

“The government doesn’t have the budget to do all the work being done through [the council and working groups]; industry is paying for a lot of this work and allocating people and the industrial strategy was always that industry and government would work together on this.”

Initiatives carried out through the CLC have included volume housebuilders examining ways to tackle the skills shortage; modern methods of construction and innovation; a fair payment charter; and work on CSCS cards.

At its June 2014 meeting, Dr Cable had emphasised that the feedback he had received from the construction industry was of the necessity for an effective council.

Another industry-government forum to lose a co-chair in the general election was the National Infrastructure Planning Strategic Engagement Forum, co-chaired by former Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and the Association of Consultancy and Engineering’s chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin.

It is understood no scheduled NIPSEF meeting has been scrapped to date, with Greg Hands now in place as chief secretary to the Treasury following the prime minister’s reshuffle.

When asked whether the government planned to retain the Construction Leadership Council, a BIS spokeswoman said there was nothing further to add to the correspondence that had been sent out to members.

Construction industrial strategy – Construction 2025

The industrial strategy for construction was published in July 2013 and set four long-term ambitions for the industry:

  • 33 per cent reduction in both the initial cost of construction and the whole-life cost of assets
  • 50 per cent reduction in the time from the outset to completion for new build and refurbished assets
  • 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment
  • 50 reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials

 

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