Construction to take over management and funding of forum and use it to campaign for common objectives.
Construction industry bodies are set to take over the running and funding of the DTI-backed strategic forum, now chaired by Sir John Egan, and turn it into a lobbying body for the whole of the construction industry.

The Construction Industry Umbrella Body met this week to finalise plans for the takeover and will present them to construction minister Brain Wilson next month.

It is understood that the move has come because the industry wants to create a single pan-industry lobbying body to campaign for common objectives, such as a cut in the rate of VAT on repair and maintenance.

A Whitehall source said a DTI-funded forum could not lobby other government departments, such as the Treasury, effectively.

Graham Watts, chairman of the CUB and chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, said the umbrella bodies had reached agreement in principle and that the meeting this week would finalise proposals.

Watts said: "Currently, the DTI provides funding for the strategic forum but under new proposals each industry body would make resources available to support a new-style forum."

He said the strategic forum would continue in name but a new chairman would be appointed.

It will also include a representative from the DTI. Watts added that the plans had been discussed at previous CUB executive committee meetings and it had been agreed that there was a continuing need for a strategic forum.

Construction Products Association chief executive Michael Ankers said: "The CPA strongly believes there is a need for a strategic forum to represent the whole industry." He added that the association had agreed to allocate a modest amount of resources.

Industry bodies that make up the CUB include the Construction Industry Council, the Construction Confederation, the Constructors Liaison Group, the Confederation of Construction Clients and the CPA.

Egan's final report for the forum, Accelerating Change, will be officially launched after an industry-wide consultation at a conference in September. A Whitehall source said this was when Egan was likely to hand over his chairmanship to industry bodies. He is set to launch a draft version of his report at a conference next month.

The strategic forum was formed last year by outgoing construction minister Nick Raynsford to take over from the Construction Industry Board after it was wound up.