Construction Products Association chairman Geoff Cooper has called on the government to address key challenges in energy supply and access to finance as the construction industry looks to return to growth.
Speaking this week at the association’s annual lunch, Mr Cooper urged policymakers to provide greater confidence and certainty to business by addressing a number of key challenges facing the sector.
Following economic forecasts by the Construction Products Association, Mr Cooper, who is also the chief executive of Travis Perkins, said he was encouraged by indications of growth arising in 2014 and beyond, and that a challenging period through 2013 might finally reflect the “darkest hour before dawn”.
“For this to occur it is vital that government announcements feed through into real activity on the ground and the private sector find confidence in a gradually improving economy.”
The association showed construction minister Michael Fallon around an exhibition showcasing innovative and sustainable construction products manufactured in the UK, being hosted at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills headquarters in London.
Mr Fallon said: “This showcase held by the Construction Products Association demonstrates just how innovative and world-leading the sector is,and is just one of the ways government and industry is working together to challenge outdated perceptions that as a country we don’t make anything anymore.”
However, at the association lunch, Mr Cooper said, “Confidence in the future and certainty around government policies, plans and regulations will drive the decision making of the business community. We look to government to address key challenges such as: energy supply and security, access to finance, taxation, quality of infrastructure, education and skills and planning regulations.”
Mr Cooper noted the recent successes of the government and industry working together to create benefits, particularly around reductions in the corporation tax and elimination of the energy levy affecting the ceramics, steel, glass and cement sectors, helping give those firms a level playing field with their competitors on the continent.
He stated the development of an Industrial Strategy for Construction is an opportunity to define our industry’s role in delivering a world class built environment, and to:
- ‘Address our needs for a diverse, skilled and qualified workforce;
- Re-double our efforts towards achieving a ‘Zero Harm’ culture;
- Achieve greater sustainability performance;
- Promote a smarter and more productive UK supply chain which can supply the construction needs for all other UK industries;
- Create a fair and effective payments charter; and
- Think of ways of making our industry more collaborative whilst recognising its fragmented and competitive nature and the strengths already inherent in it.’