Industry leaders have used a parliamentary inquiry into construction to call for the public sector to be more open about its plans and changes to them, writes Eleanor Goodman.

MPs were told that the industry would find it easier to mobilise resources and train staff to carry out large investment programmes such as Building Schools for the Future if the public sector committed itself to a timetable for taking schemes to the market.

John Colley, president of the Construction Products Association, said the industry needed clearer guidance when targets for public sector projects changed. He said: “It’s helpful to know the number of schools and hospitals being built, but if the government doesn’t measure progress – for instance with the refurbishment of schools that’s more of a problem to us.”

David Fison, chief executive of Skanska, agreed that the government could be slow to update the industry. He said: “The government should be realistic about the delays that always enter programmes. They are a fact of life.”

Fison said clearer long-term work programmes would enable companies to better plan the training of workers.

If the government doesn’t measure progress, that’s more of a problem

John Colley,CPA

The hearing also included a discussion of migrant labour, during which Fison said there was no evidence it was contributing to accidents.

His comments followed a plea from Ucatt’s Jim Kennedy at a Vulnerable Workers Enforcement Forum meeting the previous day. He argued that the Health and Safety Executive should collect data on nationality in their death and injury statistics.

Ucatt is due to give evidence to the inquiry in November.

The hearing, held on Tuesday, was the first in the trade and industry select committee’s wide-ranging inquiry into the construction industry and its capacity to undertake work.