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L-R: Julia Evans and Mark Robinson

Construction industry reacts to Brexit vote

As Britain prepares to leave the EU, industry experts voice concerns over uncertainty

Posted by Stephanie Broad | June 27, 2016 | People, policy, politics, money

After high level of uncertainty evident in the build up to the EU referendum, which has been detrimental to our economy, the country has given its decision to leave the EU.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive of BSRIA, said: “The decision is ‘out’ and the country has voted.   

“But we now have some very serious questions for government: how do we maintain economic investor confidence? What does this mean for energy efficiency? And how will this impact the skills issue and how we should we address this? Specifically regarding labour – how will the industry access much-needed tradesmen? Industry needs to know answers to the questions!  

“BSRIA calls on government to take the lead and show direction now. With the current housing shortage crisis – we ask how are we going to find the workforce with the right skills to build these? But we must not lose sight of the fact that house building volume cannot be at the expense of quality – so such skills shortage are even more acute.  

“We also ask government where will direct investment now come from without EU financing and backing? If government is not going to make any necessary investment – where will it come from?

'And what of carbon reduction energy policies? Will these still be followed? Industry needs to reassured and quickly.” 

According to the latest Markit/CIPS survey, output growth over the month slowed to its weakest rate for over three years. 

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, commented: “Today’s result will create huge uncertainty for the public sector and its suppliers. With the financial markets and economy set to be turbulent, perhaps for some time, the public sector now faces the prospect of further government spending cuts on top of the very significant pressures they have already been put under. Long-term projects, like HS2, could now be at risk from the economic fallout of the result. The immediate priority for the government has to be to steady the ship, and provide as much clarity as possible on the renegotiation process and the security of government-funded projects in the year ahead. 

“All of this however, will provide only limited reassurance to either the public sector or the construction industry, as the natural instinct of most decision-makers will be to put the brakes on their plans, as the uncertainty we’ve seen over the past two months deepens. Now is the time for strong leadership from public sector and industry leaders as well as the government.  

“The government must clarify as a matter of urgency what will happen to the EU construction workers in the UK, as they are currently filling the gap left by our skills crisis. We need to recruit a million workers into the industry by 2020, and putting EU migrants off coming here will only exacerbate this problem. For the public sector and its supply chains to plan ahead as best they can, we need to know when and how migration and employment patterns will be affected. 

“One area that is unlikely to change any time soon is procurement. Although the OJEU system is a creation of the EU, it’s rules and procedures are embedded in UK law and would require new legislation to be overturned. Changing UK legislation would be complex and time consuming due to the number of public sector and industry bodies with which consultation would be required. One of the few certainties we can draw from today is that the UK will always need a robust system of procurement that delivers value for both taxpayers and the public sector.” 

 

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