Insiders said the taskforce, one of the central planks of Nick Raynsford’s Respect for People initiative, has not received sufficient funding from the industry to keep it running.
The group, named Change the Face of Construction, is chaired by John Hobson, head of the DETR’s Construction Directorate. It was set up by the DETR last year and given an initial grant of £50 000 in public funding.
Since January, it has been funded by the Construction Industry Board. However, CIB funding was scheduled to end in July and be replaced by money from contractors and consultants. However, insiders said the taskforce had failed to attract funding from construction companies and warned that, unless the government stepped in to fund it, the initiative would collapse.
One insider said: “In order for it to continue, it needs money that the industry does not seem willing to give. It’s very sad, but construction companies do not seem interested in what the taskforce is doing.”
The taskforce has had a troubled history. Last year, lack of funds meant it had to cancel a conference on ethnic minorities and women in construction. The conference has yet to take place.
Following the cancellation, construction minister Beverley Hughes met with representatives from the CIB and secured funding from the board until July this year. This has enabled the taskforce to launch a web site. Taskforce project leader Helen Stone downplayed the funding issue. She said the taskforce had received cash commitments from a number of companies but she declined to name them.
Stone said: “The next phase does require funding but we’re working on that. We’re working our way through a very long list [of potential doners] and we aim to engage sufficient of them for Change the Face to continue.” She added: “I’m optimistic about funding. We are seeking to engage companies and we hope they’ll contribute.”
However, the insider said: “The industry does not see the point in Change the Face and thinks it is duplicating the work of Respect for People.”
Another said: “Change the Face has no intellectual argument to interest the industry. It’s just a rather poor talking shop.”