Mace call to boost construction

In a letter published in the Daily Telegraph last week, Mace Group Chairman and CEO Stephen Pycroft was one of 20 leading figures in the construction industry to call on the Government to use the construction industry to stimulate the economy.

The letter marks the start of a new campaign called Creating Britain’s Future, which is designed to highlight the importance of the construction sector to the UK economy.

Stephen and the chief executives from 19 other companies including Carillion, Severfield Rowen and Costain, claim that the Government is failing on its pledge to stimulate the economy through infrastructure projects and could lose Britain key investments by delaying vital decisions. The letter said: “Even within current public sector restraints, there is more that could be done to stimulate construction and create growth – by speeding up decision making and finding new ways of financing construction projects. The construction industry has a part to play in this and is ready to deliver.”

The group of construction industry chiefs are reacting to the fact that Chancellor George Osborne announced last autumn that he wanted to lead an economic recovery through pension funds investing in national infrastructure. This led to the drawing up of a National Infrastructure Plan including £250bn of potential projects. However, it has since become clear that the pension funds have drawn little interest and key projects such as nuclear power stations, roads, railways and airports are being delayed by lack of clarity over Government policy leading to CBI Director John Cridland’s question to the Government “Where are the diggers in the ground?”

Stephen addressed the issue this week in his speech at the Construction News Awards saying: “The UK construction industry is a great industry and the UKCG has done great work to publicise our contribution to the economy. The statistics speak for themselves, UK construction currently employs one in 12 people in the UK, every pound invested in construction generates £2.84 in economic activity and 92p of every pound invested stays within the UK thereby creating more British jobs. I believe that it is now time for the government and the financial institutions to appreciate the significant role and contribution that our industry plays in this country. I think the greatest challenge is for the industry to join together and work collectively to get the recognition we deserve.”

In response to the letter a UK Government spokesperson said: “Over the next four years there are over 600 Government funded construction projects and programmes; which will see around £40bn of investment, excluding rail and other regulated and private sector infrastructure investment. In addition the Government is using all the tools at its disposal to ensure that UK projects have the private investment they need.

This includes bringing in new investors into UK infrastructure, introducing new sources of revenue such as tolling, allowing local authorities more flexibility and being willing to consider guarantees against specific risks that the market cannot bear.”

Read the full piece at The Telegraph online.