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Industrial strategy an opportunity for construction

Cutting current spending should have been the government’s priority, rather than cuts to capital spending, according to the new chairman of the Construction Products Association.

Travis Perkins chief executive Geoff Cooper was speaking at the association’s autumn lunch, where he replaced outgoing chairman Bill Bolsover.

He said he would offer himself to the Department for Business to work with them in areas where the association can make a difference and that the government’s industrial strategy, favoured by business secretary Vince Cable, represented an important opportunity for the industry.

In September, Mr Cable outlined his industrial strategy plans, to include a new government-backed institution to help companies invest and partnerships between government and industry with strategies for specific sectors by 2013.

Mr Cooper said industrial policy should be removed from tampering by politicians to combat the effect of new government administrations with each electoral cycle.

He said: “What happens is loads of valuable work is done and then a new administration comes in and all of that work gets blown off course and we change direction once again. Would you really say industrial strategy is any less important than monetary policy?”

He added that monetary policy had been removed from temperal tampering of politicians and industrial strategy needed the same separation.

Outgoing association chairman Bill Bolsover reiterated the need for the industry to act with a single voice, something he said had been a priority during his two and a half years in the role, and something that was backed by Mr Cooper.

Mr Bolsover said that without construction there would be no sustainable recovery in the economy and that if the industry is to be successful with one voice, the government must engage with that forum.

Mr Bolsover also described the launch of the Green Deal as “completely unacceptable” and a “real damp squib”.


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