Yesterday we highlighted what we thought the construction industry had gained under ten years of Tony Blair. Today, we look at the areas where we think the government could have done much better.
Failures over the last ten years1 Housing supply and planning. The two are inherently linked, although it took the Treasury’s Barker review before the government saw it. House prices have rocketed – the average price of a home in 1997 was £69,500 compared with £192,500 in 2007 – but Blair has failed to crank up supply. And it was only during the second term that funding for social housing was put on the table. Tackling the backlog of council housing repairs has certainly been a great achievement, but it’s up to Brown to get more built.
2 Training. One might not level this at Blair, but while the industry has boomed, training has certainly not kept pace with demand. Indeed, despite over a decade of growth the industry’s attitude to training has never gone beyond the boom-bust cycle psychology. All those hospitals and schools have increasingly been built by migrant labour.
3 Transport. The fact that Crossrail still does not have funding just about sums up the government’s transport policy.
4 A voice for the industry. The ability of the industry to guide government policy seems to have declined in direct proportion to the importance of its role in delivering public services. Perhaps that’s why building regulation has become such a complete knotted mess.
For a full analysis of the Blair years click on the titles under related stories in the right hand column.