Build, build, build?

Wrightstyle, the Devizes-based supplier of advanced glazing systems, has cautiously welcomed the government’s pledge to ‘build, build, build’.

However, while the company says that it welcomes many of the prime minister’s plans, it sees ‘a fundamental gap between rhetoric and real commitment’.

The Prime Minister has promised to build hundreds of thousands of new homes across the UK as well as invest in major infrastructure projects. The PM likened his £5 billion pledge to US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1930’s New Deal, which helped to lift the USA from the Great Depression.

However, Wrightstyle points to the latest report from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and says that the government is continuing to underestimate the importance of the sector. The CIOB report suggests that the economic influence of the UK construction sector is almost double that of officially recorded figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The Real Face of Construction 2020 report says that the sector accounts for about 6% of UK economic output and provides employment for 2.3 million people.

That employment total, about 7.1% of the UK workforce, doesn’t include the many hundreds of thousands employed within other related businesses, says Wrightstyle, including architects and engineers to companies such as builders’ merchants and plant hire providers.

The Prime Minister said that he wants to use the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to ‘to build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK’.

But Wrightstyle believes that, with the economy having shrunk by 20% in April alone, the government’s pledge doesn’t go nearly far enough. It supports the CIOB’s report that argues that, if all aspects of the design and construction process were included in government figures, construction GDP could be close to double in size.

“As a sector, we have the skills and capacity to create the jobs and new opportunities that this country so badly needs,” said Jane Embury, a director of Wrightstyle. “But we don’t believe that the government is going nearly far enough in putting in place the new investments that are needed to turn promises into promises fulfilled.

“While we therefore welcome the government’s pledge for investment, we believe it won’t deliver the outcomes the government is seeking that that there is a fundamental gap between rhetoric and real commitment,” she said.