Construction4growth campaign warns that delays to flagship scheme may seriously damage the sector
The construction industry has called for the government to refocus on rolling out the Green Deal scheme, amid concerns that delays could further undermine the recession-hit industry.
The call came as part of a wider campaign, launched this week, to make the case for investment in construction to drive economic growth.
The Construction4growth campaign, revealed by Building last week, is organised by CITB-Construction Skills and backed by over 900 construction industry figures. It is also supported by a host of industry bodies, including the UK Contractors Group (UKCG), the Federation of Master Builders, the National Federation of Builders, the National Specialist Contractors’ Council, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, the Home Builders Federation, and the CBI.
Construction4Growth builds on UKCG’s Creating Britain’s Future campaign, launched in July - backed by Building magazine - which aims to make the case for investment in construction as a driver of economic growth, with every £1 invested in construction generating a total of £2.84 in economic activity.
The campaign, which has been welcomed by the prime minister, calls for greater investment in construction to drive growth and create jobs, particularly through short-term investment in housing, repair and maintenance projects.
One of its main focuses is on ensuring the government’s flagship Green Deal programme is rolled out successfully to create a new market in “green” jobs.
Judy Lowe, deputy chairman of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said the campaign hoped to meet with the chancellor George Osborne later this year and would be meeting other key ministers also, including new business ministers Michael Fallon and Matthew Hancock.
She that while the government’s push to boost housing and infrastructure was welcome (see news analysis, page 20), there needed to be a greater focus on “immediate investment that delivers immediate results”.
She said: “There are currently 26 million UK homes in need of upgrade and repair to make them energy-efficient decent places to live in. For every job created by an infrastructure project, an additional two are generated within the repair and maintenance sector – and this is the immediate solutions required for growth.”
Keith Marshall, chief executive of construction skills body SummitSkills, which is backing the campaign, said the industry was “deeply concerned” about the Green Deal, which is due to be launched next month.
He said the government’s stated “soft launch” of the scheme meant that there was little awareness both within the industry and amongst the public. “Not only does the man in the street not know about it but we’re finding that even installers don’t know about it. We feel that there is simply not going to be the demand there for it,” he said.
As revealed by Building last week, insulation industry leaders have written to ministers warning that the Green Deal is unlikely to be fully operational until September 2013 – nearly a year later than planned – and the delay could mean nearly half of the people working in the industry lose their jobs.
Marshall said the impact would be wider than the insulation industry and would hit building services engineers and other small firms.
“A lot of businesses are waiting for the Green Deal to arrive – the delays are going to put a lot more SMEs at risk,” he said. “The government urgently needs to get behind the Green Deal and make it a success.”