Chancellor commits to construction sector deal echoing ICE Autumn Budget recommendation

Today’s Autumn Budget included a pipeline supporting infrastructure and construction projects to support an ambitious housebuilding commitment.

The Chancellor’s Construction Sector Deal commitment also promises to support innovation and skills in the construction sector.
The Chancellor’s Construction Sector Deal commitment also promises to support innovation and skills in the construction sector.

The Chancellor's Budget contained many of the recommendations that ICE made in its Autumn Statement submission including £170m for the Construction Sector Deal as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge.

Alongside this was a commitment to make offsite construction the delivery mechanism of choice for Department for Education, Department of Health, Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Defence, enabling the UK's construction industry to significantly increase the use offsite manufacturing.

This innovative construction technique can help to rebalance jobs more equitably throughout the country, improve value for money from public investment and minimise disruption to local communities during the construction process.

The Construction Sector Deal is a proposal set out by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), co-chaired by ICE Vice President Andrew Wolstenholme. It offers a set of proposals to reduce the costs to the public over the lifetime of assets such as roads, rail and energy projects and gives the construction industry the chance to build sustainable and resilient businesses for future jobs and UK expertise.

ICE will work closely with government and the CLC to detail the plans for implementing the sector deal in order to seize the opportunities the sector deal offers for the construction industry.

This announcement comes as government confirms £44bn in capital funding, loans and guarantees to deliver 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s and an infrastructure and construction pipeline worth as much as £600bn over the next decade – the largest figure ever committed.

There was also a commitment to improving connectivity for our major urban centres, coming in the form a vision for an ambitious integrated programme of infrastructure, housing, business investment, once again echoing ICE's Budget recommendations.

£1.7bn was also announced as the Chancellor launched a Transforming Cities Fund to improve transport links and promote local growth within city regions.

In addition the government will introduce legislation that will put Transport for the North (TfN) on a statutory footing, one of ICE's key Budget recommendations This shift to a commitment for integrated local planning represents a change in the government mindset and an appreciation of the importance of designing for the local community.

ICE has championed this approach in the National Needs Assessment and more recently in the Delivering a Northern Infrastructure Strategy report.

ICE Director General Nick Baveystock welcomed the Chancellor's statement:

"By encouraging and promoting the links between our towns and cities government is paving the way for combined economic activity, making the passage of goods, services and ideas between businesses and universities substantially easier.

"Improving the North's transport networks will lead to faster, more frequent and reliable journeys, raising not just economic productivity but the quality of people's everyday lives. We would urge Parliament to approve these measures so TfN can take the next steps to enhance network integration and connectivity, ensuring that the region fully benefits from HS2. This was one of the key recommendations in ICE's budget submission and we urge MPs both North and South to support this effort.

"Infrastructure is not a series of stand-alone assets. It delivers benefits through complex networks that need to be precisely managed. If we do not take the right steps we will lose out on the opportunities."

ICE regularly submits its recommendations to government ahead of the budget, offering an insight into the major beneficial effect that infrastructure has on people's lives, as well as the huge positive impact the sector has on the UK economy.

Many of ICE's recommendations were drawn from the National Needs Assessment (NNA) which looks ahead at the UK's infrastructure needs over a 30 year horizon. It states what needs to be done now and the decisions that need to be taken to deliver services for our infrastructure needs until 2050.

It provides a blueprint for the government-backed National Infrastructure Commission's own National Infrastructure Assessment, due to be published in 2018.