Now get out of that

What’s our recovery plan so that we build back Wales better? Ed Evans, director of CECA Wales explains the WCFA does have a plan and it is being put to Welsh Government right now

Wales needs an exit plan to build its way out of the COVID19 crisis. There’s a phrase that’s already in danger of being over-used: shovel ready. But it fits – the Welsh construction industry needs to get back to work. Yes, many sites have kept going and the Welsh Government has been enormously supported since lockdown began in March. It’s not been an easy time for anyone in the industry. But what’s needed now is the same type of focus and energy that helped solve the problem of the field hospitals. Preconceptions, ego, and traditional thinking needs to be put to one side. We need to build back better: now.

That’s why Welsh Construction Federation Alliance (WCFA) is proposing a six month 12-point recovery plan. It does what it says on the tin. It is a recovery plan. There are many issues that lie beneath the initial 12-points that all still need to be addressed, but for now, we need to return to the business of construction.

We have based our recovery plan on six priorities for the sector. We agree with the Build Back Wales paper that even before COVID19 our industry needed fixing. Our ideas are still relevant even though we developed them prior to the emergence of COVID9. So, to emerge and move forward we want to focus on –

1. Pipeline - develop an agreed, costed and time-framed pipeline of public sector construction projects to support and grow the construction sector in Wales so that it fully contributes to our wellbeing as a nation.

2. Procurement – develop a streamlined public sector procurement process that supports our foundation economy, is attractive to SMEs, proportionate to the investment, and minimises bureaucracy, complexity, and bidding costs.

3. Planning – develop a streamlined, proportionate, flexible, and cost and time effective Planning system that supports, manages, and encourages appropriate development across Wales without impeding investment.

4. Payment – ensure that we have a Welsh construction industry where the whole supply chain is paid fairly, in full and on time for the works carried out.

5. Skills – develop a skilled workforce that meets the construction industry’s needs in Wales

6. Decarbonisation – develop a Welsh construction industry that fully contributes towards Wales’ net zero emissions target by 2050 and is supported to capitalise on the economic opportunities that this brings.

These are all aligned with the ideas set out by the UK’s Construction Leadership Council (CLC) which has developed an “Industry Recovery Plan” to support the sector across the UK as it emerges from this crisis. But it is vital we make our plans about Wales as we have specific issues.

In early July, the first Construction Forum will meet – hosted by Welsh Government – where the WCFA plan will be proposed and set against the context sketched out in Building Back Wales. We hope to see the 12-point plan signed off and driven forward. Then as an industry – united, collaborative and with one voice – we can drill down into the detail of issues such as procurement, planning and decarbonisation to ensure we do not just recover in six months but Build Back Better for future generations.