Construction Strategy verdict: it's far from full marks!
Post Date: 10 July 2012
Leading industry figures have called for targeted help beyond an engagement with the need for cuts in spending on the anniversary of the government's publication of its Construction Strategy.
Alison Perry OBE, the NFB chair this week succeeded by David Parsons, exclusively told Constructive: "We met with the Cabinet Office in March and I’ve met Paul Morrell again since and it’s fair to say there is room for improvement"
Emphasising that she had not advised the prime minister in any formal capacity, she continued: "Even though we have seen money injected I think the government has had its hands literally tied. While it was wise not to have joined the Euro, the fall-out from recent events has, I’m sure, prevented there being more help for our members."
UK managing director of engineering consultancy WSP, Paul Dollin, commented: "The UK construction industry can deliver government projects more efficiently, effectively and economically – one only needs to draw comparisons from organisations that successfully work on both public and private sector construction projects.
"Successfully implemented, I have no doubt the Government Construction Strategy will achieve the desired outcomes however I am concerned that many of the achievements to date have relied on the highly competitive nature of today’s industry, which will not result in long term sustainable cost savings."
Meanwhile director of external affairs at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), Alasdair Reisner, said: “CECA recognises the government is making progress on its work to unlock innovation and growth, by using its purchasing power to drive industry change, implement procurement reform, and achieve efficiency savings.
"However, it must be recognised that the industry faces a challenging time ahead, with uncertainty stemming from worsening market conditions, as the UK economy is buffeted by the headwinds of the Eurozone crisis and an increasingly uncertain global economic outlook. The industry will be better positioned to respond to these challenging conditions if the reforms outlined in the Government Construction Strategy are delivered.
"We hope that the government will continue to support these reforms, delivering benefits for industry and the taxpayer alike."
Architect Jack Pringle, chairman of Construction Industry Council, said: "It takes time for the messages to get through from central government on this. We could really change the culture of the industry, but the government needs to redouble its efforts to get the message across."
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "We agree there’s more to do, however it’s not true to suggest that there has been little change since the introduction of the construction strategy."
Here is a precis of the Cabinet Office's 69-page report:
- Industry has ‘engaged energetically’ with the reform programme – 120 private sector representatives play an active role in its development and governance
- Cost benchmarking data has been published by the seven main purchasing departments, providing a clear baseline for targeted reductions
- Cost reduction trajectories have been published by the seven departments, demonstrating that the proposed 15%-20% cost reductions are within reach
- Three iterations of the construction and infrastructure pipeline have been published, providing industry with visibility over the forward work programme
- The 2011/12 target for the value of contracts making use of Project Bank Accounts has been exceeded by 100%, providing improved payment speed and security to SMEs and others in the supply chain, and delivering expected savings of around 1% of project costs
- The commitment to embrace Building Information Modelling (BIM) in government projects over a five-year time frame is positioning the UK to become a world leader in the take-up of BIM and has encouraged investment in the industry to support the revolutionary change that the use of BIM represents
Trial projects as well as permanent initiatives such as the Red Tape Challenge and the one in and one out rule for regulations have been a feature of the direction overseen by outgoing chief advisor Paul Morrell OBE.
Stephen Allott, Crown Representative for SMEs and a speaker at the NFB’s last ‘Future of Construction’ conference, offered a series of reasons why the consultancy One Framework, for example, would benefit SMEs while simultaneously slashing costs, including the scrapping of the need for public sector customer references to bid as well as a more transport process demanding fewer checks and a 40% reduction in the time needed to fill out the pre-qualification questionnaire.