Westminster Business Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for UK construction - modernisation, sustainability, COVID-19, and the Government’s policy agenda

Morning, Wednesday, 3rd February 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focuses on key issues for the future for UK construction - in the context of the pandemic and significant policy initiatives affecting the sector.

The agenda:

  • Developing the construction sector - COVID-19 recovery, the National Infrastructure Strategy, and the way forward for policy
  • Innovation and sustainability in delivering new homes
  • The Planning White Paper and what it means for the construction industry
  • Sustainability in construction - achieving zero carbon, modern methods of construction, and reducing the environmental impact
  • Developing the workforce - skills, apprenticeships and diversity
  • Following Brexit - supply chains, the workforce and standards

The background at a glance:

  • Planning for the future - government consulting on White Paper proposals for speeding up the planning process through simplifying local plans and making greater use of templates and digital tools:
    • streamlining - a 'simpler, faster and more predictable planning system'
    • zoning by local authorities - for protection, renewal, and for growth, accommodating substantial development and benefiting from outline permission
  • A New Deal for Britain - the PM’s proposals for fuelling economic recovery from the pandemic, introducing plans to 'build back better, build back greener and build back faster'
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy - due in advance of this seminar and expected to include £100bn for transport, digital connectivity local growth, and decarbonisation
  • Homes England commissions MMC research study to drive construction innovation - and one year into the UK Research and Innovation Transforming construction programme
  • Government to protect small businesses with action on late payments - consultation on giving the Small Business Commissioner more power to support businesses and resolve late payment issues

Key areas for discussion:

The Planning White Paper

  • zoning - the likely impact of zoning on local authorities as central government sets out zones
  • local plans - discussing the target for the local plan process to be completed within 30 months and the potential penalties for those that don’t complete within the timeframe
  • digital planning - government proposals to move planning to a digitised system aimed at easier public access to documents, with discussion on implementation issues and the potential impact on quality of decision-making, and time and cost efficiencies


  • sustaining sector growth - what is needed for the industry to:
    • support and manage positive trends in home building and commercial construction - as the sector benefits from a post-lock down bounce in the housing market and stamp duty holiday
    • hedge against possible economic pressures ahead - including the impact of the end of the EU exit transition period
  • impact on policy aims - what will be needed to achieve the Prime Minister’s goals and the UK’s national infrastructure programme target of £650bn worth of projects by 2025
  • support - assessing government plans in the face of UK-wide site shutdowns, pandemic safety measures, supply chain disruption, cash flow pressures and the resulting decline in construction output
  • build back better:
    • A new deal - examining the way forward for policy implementation with the PM’s proposals in the wake of the pandemic, including bringing forward £5bn of capital investment projects
    • the Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce - assessing progress and priorities in achieving its aim of fast-tracking the building of schools, hospitals, roads and prisons


  • net zero - options and practicalities for measuring, reducing and offsetting emissions as the sector as it plays its role in supporting both the UK economy and achieving government 2050 carbon goals
  • COP26 - sector priorities for measures to be set out by the UK Government at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow affecting new construction activity, the existing built environment, and the construction industry’s responsibilities


  • modern methods of construction - latest thinking on the adoption of MMC to improve construction productivity and delivery, against the backdrop of increasing demand for new houses
  • research - priorities for the Homes England study into MMC
  • the Transforming construction programme - progress made in supporting the industry to adopt new technologies and to support buildings being constructed faster, more cost effectively, and bearing down on lifetime carbon emissions

Brexit, the workforce and supply chains

  • mitigating impact - with the end of the transition period and introduction of a new immigration system, what policies and sector strategies are needed for an industry that often uses labour from abroad, and to avert the knock-on effects that a potential skills shortage could have on the industry’s ability to sustain itself and meet government targets
  • employment status and subcontractors - priorities for contractor regulatory compliance including employment status for a flexible workforce, as businesses look for ways to make savings
  • supply chains and standards - an early opportunity to discuss how the sector and policy framework are adapting to import tariffs and procurement challenges, along with standardisation issues for building products, materials and machinery

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from the BEIS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; the Health and Safety Executive; and HM Revenue & Customs.

Overall, we expect speakers and other participants to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as stakeholders from across the sector, including infrastructure and construction groups together with their advisors and partners, local authorities and others involved in planning, housing groups, utilities companies, investors, law firms, research institutions and analysts, environmental and other advocacy groups, academics and commentators, and reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Nadhim Zahawi MP

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Business and Industry), BEIS

Mark Farmer

Founding Director and Chief Executive Officer, Cast Consultancy and Champion, Modern Methods of Construction


Steve Radley

Director of Strategy and Policy, CITB

James Butcher

Head of Policy & Research, National Federation of Builders

Victoria Hills

Chief Executive, Royal Town Planning Institute

Professor Sean Smith

Director, Institute for Sustainable Construction, Edinburgh University

David Pinder

CEO, Baxi Heating and Chair, Green Construction Board

David Adams

Technical Director, Melius Homes Limited

Louise Aitken

Skills Lead, South East Local Enterprise Partnership

Maria Coulter

Owner, Construction Coach

Sam Stacey

ISCF Challenge Director for Construction, Innovate UK