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UK General Election - Only 3% Of Construction Sector Believe Parties Manifestos Address Industry Problems

28th June 2024


Only 3% of construction industry professionals surveyed believe election manifestos have addressed real issues facing the construction sector

With the UK off to the polls on 4 July, question marks over key issues remain a sticking point for the UK construction sector and built environment.

The snap election is the latest twist in a challenging period for the construction industry, marked by regulatory reform, runaway inflation, and a bleak economic outlook.

NBS and Glenigan surveyed construction professionals to identify the major issues missing from the election coverage.

The sector feels overwhelmingly overlooked by current political conversation

The survey, which included responses from 505 industry professionals across various company sizes and turnover brackets, posed the question: ‘What’s missing from the election coverage?’

It found that, overwhelmingly, the construction industry has been left dissatisfied by lacklustre manifestos.

Many of the issues plaguing the sector have been left out of the conversation altogether by political parties.

Only 3% of respondents believed that the election coverage had addressed all the key issues impacting the sector, pointing to widespread frustrations.

Key findings of the NBS and Glenigan survey:

  • Over a third of respondents emphasised the need for more building materials to be produced domestically, reducing the reliance on imports, and bolstering local economies.
  • One in three participants identified potholes and the broader challenge of crumbling infrastructure as areas needing more focus. SMEs with 1-9 employees and those with annual turnovers under £50m were notably concerned, highlighting the potential impact on transportation and logistics.
  • Skills shortages remain a critical issue, with a quarter of respondents agreeing that more needs to be done to attract and train talent.
  • A quarter of those surveyed flagged late payment culture as a key challenge. Although Labour has said it would take action to ensure small businesses are paid on time, and the Tories have vowed to improve enforcement of the Prompt Payment Code, more clarity is needed around how enforcement would be rolled out, protecting the cash flow and financial stability of smaller firms and suppliers.
  • Around a quarter of industry professionals urged the government to streamline planning processes, a concern shared across the board in terms of company size and turnover.

Inconsistent policy has held back progress

Commenting on the findings, Russell Haworth, CEO UKI of Byggfakta Group, said: “The construction sector has struggled through the past few years, challenged by high interest rates, a housing market slowdown, and weak UK economic growth.

“This has been exacerbated by a lack of long-term policy vision, not helped by the fact that 25 construction ministers have served in post since the turn of the century.

“I hope the next administration, whichever party it is, appoints MPs to these posts and keeps them there to ensure they understand the challenges facing the sector and maintain consistency to deliver crucial reforms, from digital transformation to addressing chronic labour shortages.

To tackle the real issues in UK construction, politicians must take it more seriously

“We urgently need to elevate these offices from junior positions to ones that attend the Cabinet, ensuring construction has a voice where it matters.

“For an industry that employs around 1 in 10 of the UK workforce and is such a major economic driver, construction is too often seen as an afterthought by political parties.”

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