Westminster Business Forum

UK construction - modernisation, the workforce, and supporting productivity and growth following the Sector Deal

Morning, Tuesday, 14th January 2020

Central London


This seminar will assess the future of the construction industry and the progress made since the UK Construction Sector Deal.

Delegates will also discuss the next steps for achieving the Deal’s aims of delivering substantial improvement in productivity growth including in:

  • use of digital and offsite manufacturing technologies;
  • the number of apprentices and investment in training and retraining; and
  • payment and contractual practices across supply chains in the UK.

The seminar comes at a time of considerable uncertainty for the sector in light of the global economic slowdown and Brexit. We expect delegates to consider the impact of these and other factors on construction output, the recruitment of overseas workers and international supply chains - and what it might mean for policy development going forward.  

The Government is looking to industry and researchers to innovate in construction, increase productivity and open up significant global markets for efficient buildings - with measures including the Transforming Construction Challenge.

With further funding expected, delegates will consider how the Challenge can be used to develop technologies, processes and business models that will deliver built assets faster and cheaper, halve lifetime carbon emissions and improve life-long performance.

The seminar will include discussion on the recent Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee report on MMC and its recommendations including the use of MMC in helping speed up the construction process to achieve home building targets and an increase in the use of digital technology in homebuilding.

Attendees will discuss the barriers to MMC such as lack of certainty about which techniques come under the banner of MMC, lack of skilled workers and lack of access to land and ways in which these barriers can be overcome.

The Government has a target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s backed by reforms to the planning system.

We expect discussion on the achievability of this target and what needs to be done to reach it - particularly in light of the NAO’s report on planning for new homes which questioned the functioning of the planning system in England and found that half of local authorities are likely to miss their home building targets.

The agenda also looks at latest thinking on how the environmental impact of the construction sector can be reduced.

It comes with the Government introducing targets of net zero emissions by 2050, and with the construction industry being challenged to achieve net zero carbon targets through new requirements such as minimum energy efficiency targets.

Sessions will look at what needs to be done to measure, reduce and offset emissions in order to move towards this target, and deliver buildings and structures that enhance and better protect the natural environment and minimise construction’s impact on the consumption of energy and natural resources.

Delegates will discuss the effectiveness of the introduction of the duty to report on payment practices and performance, requiring all large companies to publish information on their payment practices every six months.

With 18 firms suspended from the prompt payment code this year, attendees will consider what more needs to be done to protect SMEs in the supply chain from delays to payment.

Sessions will also address how transparency and collaborative relationships in the supply chain can be used to gain benefits such as driving down costs, managing risks and improving sustainability standards.

Delegates will discuss what needs to be done to attract more young people into construction, looking at engagement between the industry and the education sector as well as how to attract a more diverse workforce.

The seminar will be an opportunity to look at apprenticeship uptake and how firms can best use apprenticeships to tackle particular skills gaps and increase diversity.

Keynote Speakers

Dr David Hancock

Construction Director, Infrastructure and Projects Authority

Ann Bentley

Lead, Supply Chain and Business Models, Construction Leadership Council and Member, Global Board, Rider Levett Bucknall

Keynote Speakers

Dr David Hancock

Construction Director, Infrastructure and Projects Authority

Ann Bentley

Lead, Supply Chain and Business Models, Construction Leadership Council and Member, Global Board, Rider Levett Bucknall


Lord Best

Deputy Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment


Samantha Ireland

Head of Business Change, Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority

Nigel Blundell

Partner, Pinsent Masons

Senior speaker confirmed from Buildoffsite

Karen Brookes

Director of People and Infrastructure, Sir Robert McAlpine

Sarah Beale

Chief Executive, CITB

Brian Berry

Chief Executive, Federation of Master Builders

Louise Aitken

Skills Lead, South East Local Enterprise Partnership

Alexandra Bolton

Executive Director, Centre for Digital Britain

Sam Stacey

ISCF Challenge Director for Transforming Construction, Innovate UK