CEWales E Bulletin November2020

Despite news about vaccines, applause from HM Government for the UK’s builders and the odd departure from Number 10, it remains an unsettling time for the UK’s construction industry. Brexit is still looming. So is the skills shortage even with news about funding for various schemes are we as an industry learning the lessons being revealed from the Grenfell Inquiry and we are committed to build back better?

And I mean, really build back better. The news emerging from Grenfell last week regarding materials testing, product marketing and the ongoing discussions around procurement process gives more than just food for thought. Added to that we saw news that confirmed what we knew: directors at Carillion were in denial about the business. It feels like despite rumours of a recovery emerging, the industry still has a lot to learn.

For me, as a new leader of CEWales, that proves the wider Constructing Excellence movement has a huge role. In Wales, our role is subtly different to other regions and the UK nationally because of the devolved nature of Wales and specific requirements for our built environment.

As the united voice of the construction sector, Constructing Excellence in Wales engages with construction companies to gauge the reality of business in real time. During the pandemic and the ‘Firebreak’ lockdown, construction sites have been allowed to continue to operate in compliance with social-distancing measures, demonstrating it’s a corner stone to the economy. So as we witness a culture of ‘build, build, build, the key to it all is doing it right – being careful about planning regulations and having a big focus on procurement which change processes for the better so we ‘build back right’.

We do see ‘growth’, but it is not as steady or as optimistic as some of the figures say. The important thing now – especially as we near the end of the year and there will be a media driven trend to forecast for 2021 – is to build back right, not simply better. It’s why we welcome the £7M invested by Welsh Government in Optimised Retrofit (see story one) and why we will be driving for further improvement in the procurement process. It’s also why we continue to back Welsh Government initiatives like Active Travel and support 100% the work of the Future Generations Commissioner.

Now is not the time to take the cheapest option; now is the time to choose value – the option that drives outcomes for the benefit of future generations in Wales.