Following the collapse of the fragile DTLR, there has been yet another major Cabinet reshuffle – but what does it mean for construction?
The construction industry can be forgiven for feeling a little disorientated after the government's latest Cabinet reshuffle. The consequence of the departmental shake-up that followed Stephen Byers’ resignation is that construction is now stretched over four ministries. Just over a year ago there was only one, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

This is hardly ideal for a joined-up approached to construction policy. What's more, the government is still not entirely sure who is responsible for which bit of construction.

Health and safety has been moved to the newly created Ministry of Transport headed up by Alistair Darling. But it may not be permanent - the government is currently assessing whether other departments should be responsible for different aspects of health and safety.

There is a worry that construction health and safety could lose its identity within a transport department. The main concern is that it will focus on the safety of the travelling public rather than the construction workers.

There are advantages of health and safety being within transport, though. Many firms now work within the sector, and with all eyes on the rail industry following the Potters Bar crash, contractors will have to make sure they put safety at the top of their agendas. The hope is that such good practice will trickle down to other sectors of the building industry.

If heath and safety does stay at transport, then it will be a ministry away from the closely related Building Regulations, which now reside at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, along with planning and housing.

The government has yet to appoint a minister responsible for Building Regulations. They should do so soon, because the regulations are going through their biggest changes in years. Without a strong hand on the tiller, there is a danger that their impact on the industry will be reduced.

Prescott's arrival coincided with the departure of Lord Falconer as housing and planning minister after only a year in the job. Lord Falconer has been replaced by Lord Rooker, which some believe will lead to a watering down of Falconer's planning green paper.

With Prescott back, it looks as though Richard Rogers will have an ear in government again. Prescott has already arranged to meet Rogers, who is unhappy with the government over its slow response to the recommendations in his 1999 urban taskforce report, Towards an Urban Renaissance. The taskforce is expected to prepare a report or statement for the government’s urban summit in November.