Politicians are looking for a positive message and ways to kick-start economic growth,which might be why they are suddenly keen to be seen visiting construction sites

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You know politicians are in election mode when they don a hard hat to visit a construction site. Along with the photo opportunity, there are the obligatory soundbites. “We’ll create the conditions for growth” was Labour leader Keir Starmer’s offering last week as he visited a site in central London and talked about how he would reform the apprenticeship levy.

Talk of growth is well targeted at construction bosses and the obvious follow-up question is: how exactly would a Labour government make it happen? Spending commitments have been body-swerved by the opposition party, although various reviews into energy, transport and social infrastructure – which are gathering evidence from industry – do suggest consultation is happening behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, the governing party had its big moment in the limelight with last week’s Budget, when the chancellor Jeremy Hunt indulged in some pre-election tax give-aways, but did little to boost construction or housebuilding. What did become apparent was the poor state of our public finances – according to analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies – and how any incoming administration, whatever its colour, will have very little room for manoeuvre.


It is easy to react negatively to this early election jostling, to dismiss it all as a lot of hot air. One view I hear a lot from industry bosses is that the sooner the election is over the better. That is understandable. Election years inevitably mean uncertainty – the enemy of the business world. Decisions to finance projects are stalled, while policy changes are floated but not implemented.

If the election were held tomorrow, Labour, with its 20-point lead, would have a landslide victory. Whatever your political leanings, you would at least know where you stood. Democracy, however, means we will have to wait until nearly the end of the year for an outcome, and until then we are in a state of limbo.

This election year is a chance to ram home the policies that boost economic growth: invest in construction and you invest in this country’s future

But there is a flip side. This unofficial period of electioneering is a chance for construction to make its case and to inform the political debate – including from our own The Building the Future Think Tank, which is dedicated to producing in-depth research and reports on behalf of the industry. Construction contributes nearly 9% to GDP while the projects it delivers have a huge social impact that benefits the whole country, and yet it is often overlooked by the political class in favour of other sectors. This election year is a chance to ram home the policies that boost economic growth: invest in construction and you invest in this country’s future.

Already we can see various industry groups pulling research together, setting out priorities and doing what they can to catch the attention of (let’s admit it, distractable) politicians. And that’s where our political coverage can make a contribution.

On Building today we dive straight in to compare where the two main political parties stand on key policy areas. We have chosen to focus first of all on their records on net zero, housing numbers and the planning system as well as modern methods of construction.

We also pose the question: where will the money come from under the next government for public sector building programmes? Funding gaps will be a huge challenge for whichever party comes to power, though neither seems keen to dwell on exactly how to overcome them. So to start with we have chosen to focus on schools where capital funding has been swallowed up by the double whammy of inflation and RAAC remediation costs.

Our political coverage will increase in the weeks and months to come, and will include the launch of a brand new Building Talks podcast series about the housing crisis, featuring some big names in the housing industry. In these in-depth interviews they will share their expert analysis of the housing market and its failures while offering some advice on how to avoid the mistakes of past governments.

Politics moves fast, policy ideas floated one day can be killed off the next, so we also intend to start a policy tracker, to help you keep tabs on just what promises have been made and then possibly un-made.


In the lead up to the mayoral elections in May we will take a look back at what some of the mayors have achieved for their regions and how the candidates could harness construction projects to help drive future growth.

Throughout the election year, we intend to follow the issues you care about, and to that end we invite you to get in touch with the team to share your views and experiences to bring those issues to life and make them even more powerful when put in front of politicians who will be campaigning for your votes.

Construction is not one homogenous group of people, it is massively diverse in terms of the range of disciplines, sector areas and company sizes represented within it. That is all part of this industry’s complexity and why we will be attempting to capture views via sentiment surveys as our coverage progresses.

November is the bookies’ odds-on favourite for an election date. That prospect may fill you with dread, excitement, or a mixture of the two. Whatever your feelings about going to the polls, one thing is for sure: the race is already on.

Chloe McCulloch, editor of Building

Election focus 

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As thoughts turn towards the next general election, the UK is facing some serious problems.

Low growth, flatlining productivity, question marks over net zero funding and capability, skills shortages and a worsening housing crisis all amount to a daunting in-tray for the next government.

This year’s general election therefore has very high stakes for the built environment and the economy as a whole. For this reason,

Building is launching its most in-depth election coverage yet, helping the industry to understand the issues in play and helping to amplify construction’s voice so that the government hears it loud and clear.

We kick off this month with a three-parter looking at the state of play across three key topic areas.

Building is investigating the funding gaps facing the next government’s public sector building programmes, looking at the policy options available to the political parties. 

In the coming months our Building Talks podcast will focus on perhaps the hottest political topic: the housing crisis. The podcast will feature interviews with top industry names who side-step soundbites in favour of in-depth discussions.

As the main parties ramp up their policy announcements, we will keep you up to date with their latest pledges on our website through our “policy tracker”.

Click here for more