How Will the General Election Impact the Construction Industry?

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How Will the General Election Impact the Construction Industry?

The result of tomorrow’s General Election is bound to have a direct impact on the construction industry.

Depending on the result, and how this ties in with various important issues - including the UK’s planned exit from the European Union - different aspects of the industry will potentially be impacted in different ways.

On one hand, the existing momentum seen with high-speed rail, highways and other infrastructure projects in recent years could see the new or existing government speeding up delivery.

Liam O’Hara, Marketing Director at SIG Building Solutions, says committing to these schemes could lead to the next generation of construction staff being trained, accompanied by an investment in the  skills needed to deliver it.

With 80% of the construction industry reportedly being of the opinion that the public is not aware of the role it plays, shaping this understanding can help to enable growth.

Approach to Brexit

Liam said: “With Brexit very much still on the agenda, the new government will need to take a joined-up approach that can facilitate the connection between infrastructure investment and economic growth.

“From a short-term perspective, it can be argued that a General Election creates slightly more uncertainty and speculation for the UK economy as a whole, which has been evidenced by the fluctuations in the value of the pound, but with 2017 being a fourth consecutive year of elections or referendums, the country is now more used to adapting to widescale changes.

“A brief hiatus in signing new public sector contracts has been witnessed in some areas, but with the summer season in swing this has had little impact on activity at ground level, due to most contracts being signed in advance.”

According to Liam, larger projects such as HS2, Hinkley Point C and Thames Tideway are unlikely to see a big impact, as work is not scheduled to begin in earnest for another year, although some schemes have been directly referenced in the parties' campaign manifestos.

Labour has vowed to create a new department aimed at tackling the UK’s housing problem, as well as extending HS2 to Scotland and also ensuring Crossrail 2 is built.

The Conservatives have left out a commitment to Crossrail 2 from their manifesto, but did outline plans to raise the cost of hiring foreign workers.

Narrowing the gap

Liam continued: “Regardless of the election result, there will need to be a narrowing of the construction skills gap, with the new administration reinforcing the importance of the construction industry to the country’s overall wellbeing, and how its ongoing modernisation can contribution to the growth in UK companies.”

Many businesses have called for all of the political parties to offer assurances that they would support economic stability and prosperity in the immediate future.

The industry has also asked for the new government to ensure that improving UK productivity and navigating a prosperous exit from the EU are kept as high priorities.

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