Friday, 9 April 2010 12:00 AM
Manifesto for the built environment
Construction is the major hidden employer in your constituency. Every parliamentary constituency in this country has thousands of people involved in designing, building, managing and maintaining the buildings and infrastructure which sustain the nation's economy and living standards. Major programmes in health, education, transport, housing and infrastructure renewal depend on construction, an industry which provides direct employment for 2.8 million people in addition to tens of thousands more in the building products industry. Investing in the built environment creates jobs, provides a major contribution to the nation's climate change commitments and results in a legacy for generations to come.
Elections are fundamentally about choices and after the coming election, no-one is in any doubt that tough choices lie ahead. Certain fundamentals remain - if we are to go back to a pattern of consistent economic growth, there needs to be a sustained programme of national investment. The physical infrastructure of this country underpins all the economic and social infrastructure. Recent research from the think-tank Policy Exchange, which indicates that £434 billion will need to be spent by
2020 renewing the UK's tired infrastructure, underlines the challenge. Moving on to specific measures, four other areas stand out - the transition to a low carbon economy, the school building programme, the importance of maintenance and the housing challenge.
Ten Key Points
The construction industry has a central role in delivering the low carbon economy, whether this is through the refurbishment of the existing building stock or the development of new buildings and infrastructure. To deliver this low carbon economy and provide a 'value for money' return on investment in relation to the built environment, the industry in partnership with government must strive to achieve the following goals.
1. Maintain construction commitments in programmes such as education and infrastructure renewal to achieve long term national economic benefits.
2. Promote future job creation and skills development in the workforce by sustaining training and apprenticeships during the economic downturn.
3. Secure 'value for money' by properly resourced maintenance programmes, quality design and construction, and efficient procurement processes.
4. Balance speed and fairness in the planning system at all levels, from the massive changes needed to facilitate large-scale power generation through to the local level.
5. Achieve carbon reduction targets and job creation by pro-actively upgrading the energy efficiency of the existing building stock, a self financing exercise as long term savings result.
6. Support construction by means of a smoothly run financial system backed by policies on taxation which promote enterprise and growth.
7. Think in longer time frames to achieve the long term changes we need in transport, energy and sustainability, as opposed to stop/start cycles.
8. Appoint a full-time Minister of Construction and give the new Chief Construction Adviser a fully resourced office to achieve a 'joined up' approach which will back up major government programmes in housing, education, health, infrastructure and carbon reduction.
9. Promote access to construction jobs to all sections of society to achieve a diverse vibrant industry.
10. Pursue a policy of zero tolerance of fatalities and injuries.