But ministers baulk at client charge to influence commissioning behaviour

Ministers from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have largely endorsed the government-commissioned Farmer Review into the future of the construction industry, in an official response issued today.

Nine of the 10 policy recommendations in Modernise Or Die, published last October by Cast CEO Mark Farmer, were backed by Alok Sharma, Anne Milton and David Prior, the ministers for housing, education and construction respectively.

Farmer told Building he was happy with the “tone and commitment” in the government’s response.

The BEIS ministers said the report’s recommendations had already “influenced the measures in the Housing White Paper, to support increased housing supply, and helped inform the review of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)”.

They added that the government supported “the continuation of the CITB, with reforms to make it more responsive and focused”, and encouraged the industry to support the continuation of the levy in the forthcoming consensus process, warning that if they did not, the “CITB may have to close, which would have significant financial costs”.

On other key Farmer Review’s recommendations, the BEIS response said the government was providing a “wider package of support” for modern methods of construction, and encouraging closer working between the industry and its clients through development of BIM.

BEIS also said the Construction Leadership Council “has a key role to play in leading change in the industry”, as recommended by Farmer.

However, the ministers did not support the 10th recommendation of Modernise or Die, that the government should consider introducing a charge on construction clients to influence commissioning behaviour.

They said: “The introduction of a client charge to encourage and fund modernisation could risk damaging developer confidence and increasing costs, at least in the short term.”

Commenting on the response, Farmer said: “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.”

The full government response to Modernise or Die is available here.