£130 million funding boost for Wales
Last Monday the Welsh First Minister made some statements about capital spend in Wales.
This was summarised in a Government press statement. Reactions are mixed at best. The Welsh construction industry, probably like many other sectors, might have managed to raise an eyebrow of interest. But to be frank, there is not much going on here we can work with.
It's worth putting this in context. Civil engineering in Wales is, as CECA Wales might describe it, on its knees. The construction industry in Wales is only 40% of the GB average. The whole industry needs a clear pipeline of work and a better procurement process to channel that work. But the announcement of £130million capital spend is not going to solve the country's infrastructure requirements. It is not enough money and it is spread too thinly and many of the ideas or projects have already begun or been earmarked. Probably less than half the money is 'new' money. Wales needs a clearly defined national strategy for its built environment. One that sits alongside sustainable development goals and that's aligned with the WFG Act, but one that is practical too.
It's great that after a long wait the Infrastructure Commission is due to publish a report – perhaps it might highlight that that WIIP has only recently been updated after many years of waiting. Wales does not have a lot of money so perhaps some of these implied criticisms are harsh. But if the Welsh Government properly engaged with the construction industry and work collaboratively to drive business improvement, to encourage business responsibility and sustainable development as partners more could be developed that will provide a legacy for future generations.
Wales needs to rethink construction – but it must do it as a collaborative group: central and local government, communities and industry working together. Then we can make our meagre housekeeping budget go much further and deliver the built environment the nation needs. Let us know what you think. If you work in government, public sector, private or whatever sector we need to know what you think can be done to ensure Wales builds the right things in the right manner that equips it for the next generation's future.