BEIS response to Modernise Or Die backs most of the Cast CEO’s recommendations

Cast CEO Mark Farmer was broadly happy with the government response to his Modernise or Die report.

“The main thing is that they have endorsed what are significant changes the construction industry needs to make,” he told Building.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued its response to Farmer’s study earlier today, nine months after its publication.

“The government has already made commitments on various fronts, particularly housing, and made it clear what they see as the Construction Industry Training Board’s role,” Farmer said.

Asked whether he was disappointed that his idea for a client charge to influence commissioning behaviour was rejected, Farmer said the recommendation had been “taken out of context”.

“This was a last resort, to be considered if the industry doesn’t set about reforming itself,” he explained. “The BEIS response was fine with me.”

Farmer noted that the government said it was encouraging closer collaboration between the industry and its clients through development of BIM, but said it was time to “up the ante”.

“It’s clear that the Level 2 BIM mandate has been applied inconsistently across government departments,” he said. “If the government is to lead by example, there needs to be uniform application of BIM across public works programmes. There are some great opportunities for using digital technology on big spending programmes in housing and education.”

Farmer also said he was disappointed at “the lack of detail on how the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) moves forward with their sector deal”.

“I would have liked to see more fiscal measures and planning measures to promote innovation in the industry,” he said.

But he added that it was important that the CLC was “a collective voice for construction”, after BEIS said the organisation “has a key role to play in leading change in the industry”.

“It has been an issue for the industry in the past, not having one voice, which was an observation in my report,” Farmer said. “There are many different sub-sectors of the construction industry, but it is key to have one body which can speak for as much of it as possible. What you don’t want is for parts of the industry to splinter and go off in different directions. That would hold us back.”

Farmer continued: “I recognise that driving industry change is a long haul but with a supportive government, both acting as an intelligent public client and in terms of setting wider policy, this can only help realise my vision of a modern and fit for purpose construction industry.

“I also feel that industry itself is becoming increasingly aware of the unprecedented challenges it now faces and I believe this ‘burning platform’ is starting to accelerate its own thinking in how it embraces modernisation, albeit this also needs to be supported by the clients that the industry serves.”

“A modern, robust construction sector that is innovative, forward-thinking and ultimately more productive and predictable, is vital to deliver on the government’s ambitious housing targets, as well as large-scale infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Hinkley Point.”