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Construction needs clarity, stability, and vision from Labour, says sector

Keir Starmer (image: Dreamstime)
Keir Starmer leads Labour to election victory after 14 years

Labour is being asked for clarity, stability, and vision by the construction industry.

The sector has welcomed the new Labour Government after it won a landslide victory last night, sweeping to power after 14 years in opposition.

The CIOB called for stability and said construction has an important role in “improving social, economic and environmental outcomes in all areas of the UK”.

The institute said it is looking forward to working with the new government to fulfil the Labour Party’s manifesto pledges to build new homes, reform planning, and improve home energy efficiency.

But it added that to do this, stability is necessary, as well as help to address skills shortages and an ageing workforce. CIOB said the new housing minister should be appointed for the long term so they can build “meaningful relationships” with the sector.

Director for policy, external affairs and research, Eddie Tuttle, said: “A new government offers the opportunity to build new relationships with policymakers and help them understand the challenges and opportunities for the sector. 

New homes and warm homes

“We look forward to working with the Labour government to help deliver on their manifesto commitments, which included building 1.5 million homes over this Parliament (2024-2029), reforming the planning system, delivering a Warm Homes Plan to upgrade the energy efficiency of five million homes, and developing a national industrial strategy to drive economic growth. 

“But to do this, we and the new government must be realistic about the challenges the construction industry faces, notably the shrinking skills base and the ageing construction workforce, with significant numbers of workers retiring and a lack of new entrants joining. 

Our pre-election manifesto made it clear the current apprenticeship system and its funding mechanisms need reviewing as a matter of priority to ensure training is affordable and relevant.

Recruitment and skills

“It must also ensure the correct incentives are in place to drive construction businesses to recruit the number of qualified professionals needed to deliver the new government’s manifesto aims.

“Without a stable pipeline of competent workers, there are significant risks to the delivery and feasibility of housing and infrastructure projects and the new government will struggle to meet its own targets along with the needs of communities up and down the country.”  

Tuttle added: “The construction sector is reliant on stability, and we urge the Labour government to ensure consistency and longevity with policymaking and its communications with industry.

“A first step is to ensure the next minister for housing holds the brief for the long term so meaningful relationships can be formed between them and experts within the sector to create policies that work for us all. Furthermore, given the strategic importance of the construction sector, we believe it should be recognised as such at cabinet minister level.” 

NFB call for clarity, detail, and realism

The National Federation of Builders said the construction sector needed “clarity, detailed policy plans, and realistic timelines” from Labour.

It said the election marked a “significant shift” in the political landscape and there were “several key implications” for construction.

They noted the Labour manifesto had a strong emphasis on growth, planning reform, and partnership with business. They were key to see the reforms Labour proposed are “implemented successfully and without delay”.

Grey areas of reform such as around promoting biodiversity and tackling pollution highlighted by the Labour party also urgently need addressing.

National Federation of Builders (NFB) chief executive Richard Beresford said: “Labour’s recognition of the impacts of a broken planning system is encouraging, and its commitment to fixing the planning system and drive growth through strategic reform is a positive step for our industry.

“If these promises are fulfilled we can look ahead to more homes, better infrastructure, and stronger businesses.”

CPA calls for long term vision

Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA) policy manager Chris Cassley said:  “The new government must work with the construction industry in addressing critical issues such as decarbonisation and reaching net zero, improving productivity and business investment, building the new homes that we desperately need, and renewing our ageing infrastructure.

“All of this requires a long-term vision and consistency from government in how policies are developed and implemented. Providing the stability and economic foundations needed for lasting economic growth comes only from engagement with industry in understanding the challenges companies face – and how they can be overcome.”

RIBA applauds ambition

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) president Muyiwa Oki said: “This is a monumental moment for the UK – and an opportunity for Labour to prove it will deliver on the changes it has committed to. 

“Its manifesto doesn’t have all the answers, but it shows ambition – not least to tackle the housing crisis by boosting the delivery of high-quality homes and fixing our broken planning system.  

“The time for bold, decisive action to deliver a safer, greener and more equitable built environment is now.   

“We look forward to working together over the coming years – bringing architects’ expertise to the table to solve the complex challenges our country faces.” 

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