This sounds like a lot of money, but in real terms it is not anything like enough to restart the economy in the manner suggested by the Government. In the heady days before COVID-19, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced new investment into infrastructure in the UK totaling £600bn between now and 2025. By comparison, £5bn is nothing like what is required to “level up” the economy in the way promised by the Chancellor. In his Dudley address, the Prime Minister confirmed that the £5bn promised was an accelerated release of those funds promised by the Chancellor, but it remains to be seen whether that £600bn will ultimately be released.
As the government eases the lockdown provisions around the country, the Prime Minister today made a speech in Dudley, the historical heart of the industrial revolution, setting out his £5 billion economic recovery plan for the country. This is the government’s plan to build our way out of the recession caused by the pandemic, and has been compared to the New Deal proposed during the Great Depression by US President Franklin D Roosevelt.
On Friday 28th February there was an incredibly well supported and organised Youth Strike for climate change protest in Bristol, at which Greta Thunberg addressed the masses. Thousands were there in support. There were safety concerns given the number of children attending this protest. There were clearly some mixed views given the disruption caused to locals, with anger at the damage to the college green in front of the Anglican Cathedral grounds.
What resonated with me was a local man’s comments during an interview for national news. He said that “it won’t change anything”. However, we then had the decision of the Court of Appeal in favour of climate campaigners that has sent a real wakeup call. The Court ruled that the transport secretary at the relevant time, who made the decision for the new third runway at Heathrow Airport, should have taken into account the latest government commitments on climate change before granting permission for the proposed expansion at Heathrow.
Last week we discussed, in light of the encouragement from Robert Jenrick MP (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government) for the construction industry to remobilise, the government’s apparent reluctance to provide confidence and clarity for the construction industry in respect of the safe operation of sites.
In the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on 10 May 2020, he re-stated that encouragement for the construction industry, where possible, to return to work.
The construction industry in the UK has been afforded the freedom to continue work where it is safe to do so since the lockdown was implemented. It is a freedom that the sector has done its best to exploit where it can, with significant works continuing on a variety of essential and less essential projects. A number of leading construction companies and housebuilders have continued or recommenced work where they are able to do so, and a number of high profile projects are apparently progressing well. Build UK has reported that its members, who comprise some of the largest contractors operating in the UK, are now working on 73% of sites (up from 69% last week). However, the issues for the industry facing the prospect of full remobilisation to all sites have not changed.
It was announced on Sunday 5 April that Keir Starmer was selected as leader of the Labour Party. Whilst the current Covid-19 outbreak has no basis for political jostling, he raised a very important question, namely, what is the government’s “Exit Strategy” to eventually get us back to a sense of normality.
The point raised by Keir Starmer is of wider economic relevance. Save for key workers, most other business sector activities have come to a halt. This is largely (but not exclusively) the case for construction and engineering projects. Continue reading Exit Strategies: Construction & Engineering UK
The COVID -19 pandemic has already had a massive effect on global economies. Its impact has been unprecedented and there is a degree of uncertainty on almost every facet of daily life.
This article seeks to touch upon issues that may affect those in the UK construction industry specifically, but certain elements will no doubt equally apply across other sectors. Continue reading Challenging Times: Construction and Engineering in the UK
In an industry of seemingly ever-tighter margins across the board, it is perhaps unsurprising that the construction industry has fought to continue through the current coronavirus crisis as much as it has. However, many in the industry have stopped work and shut down sites and, despite the current and perhaps somewhat over-optimistic view from the government that work can continue whilst still complying with social distancing rules, it seems inevitable that all non-essential work will stop very soon. Continue reading Coronavirus and Construction in the UK: The Time to Talk Is Now