Construction and Government heads together

The Welsh Ministerial Construction Forum met for the first time in July to consider the issues facing the construction sector in Wales as we emerge into a post-COVID19 landscape and how we can Build Back Better

The newly established Welsh Ministerial Construction Forum met yesterday (7th July), for the first time, to consider the issues facing the construction sector in Wales as we emerge into a post-COVID19 landscape and how we can Build Back Better.

The Forum, which was chaired jointly by Julie James, Minister for Housing and Local Government and Lee Water, Deputy Minister for the Economy and Transport comprises leading figures from both the public and private sectors across Wales’ construction and infrastructure sectors.

In its first meeting, in response to industry concerns over the survival of many companies, it agreed a 12-point short term action plan to lead the recovery of the sector out of the COVID-19 crisis. This means ensuring that there is sufficient visibility and certainty of workload for the next 6-12 months to support businesses through this crisis and give them the confidence to continue to employ people, that business support measures are maintained to ensure cashflow and avoid costly disputes, that the process for bidding for public sector work is made as quick and as simple as possible, and that the industry develops safe systems of work to deal with social distancing in the workplace.

During the forum Ministers highlighted that the Welsh Government had been supportive of the construction sector during the COVID-19 crisis and that the majority of their contracts and sites had remained operational with industry following strict working practices to ensure worker safety.  Ministers re-iterated their support for the sector with the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan – Project Pipeline being updated later in the year to provide clarity of future work opportunities.  The Welsh Government had also invested heavily in Housing, Transport, Schools and Health infrastructure to ensure continued work for all tiers of the industry during the lockdown period.

Ministers stressed the need for the whole sector, public and private, to play their part in supporting delivery of the 12-points.

It also agreed to develop a joint public and private sector medium to long term plan to deliver better construction and infrastructure for our future generations, building upon work that is already being developed across the sector. The plan will also ensure that we have people with the right skills to Build Back Better and that we grow sustainable construction businesses to deliver the low carbon buildings and infrastructure we need to live our lives better. The plan will ensure that we have a sector which focuses on value rather than lowest price and is underpinned by a commitment to the goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

The Forum also sent out a clear message that future investment in construction and infrastructure would need to demonstrate a clear commitment to a decarbonised world, support to the wellbeing of our communities and a focus on Wales’ foundation economy.