Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, has called on firms to lobby the Treasury over changes to funding research in construction

Watts said that urgent action was required to contest the decision by the DTI to end the practice of ringfencing money for construction research and development.

Building revealed in June that the construction industry stood to lose up to £7m of public research funds because of this decision. Turlogh O'Brien, Arup deputy chairman, predicted at the time that the industry would be hit if research ground to a halt.

Watts said he was particularly concerned about the future of industry research organisations such as the BRE, BSRIA and CIRIA. He predicted that they would need to make redundancies.

He said: “I think we are on the edge of the precipice for the future of research organisations. I have great concern about the future for them, particularly the BRE.”

We are on the edge of the precipice over the future of research organisations in the construction industry

CIC head Graham Watts

Watts said the industry had little chance of receiving more funds from the DTI, which was more interested in funding technological and product-related research than the project-based work required in construction.

He said: “The DTI cannot be part of the solution as it is entirely the problem. We have to get out and talk to the Treasury about this. We need to warn it that this is stacking up lots of problems for our future ability to build safely and efficiently and to make use of new technology. We need to make it aware that research is on a downward spiral.”

Watts said he expected the topic to be discussed at the next meeting of the strategic forum body.