Westminster Business Forum

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

February 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference focuses on key issues for the future for UK construction.

It takes place in the context of the pandemic and significant policy initiatives affecting the sector.

Areas for discussion include:

  • sector recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • the planning white paper, the National Infrastructure Strategy, and the net-zero and levelling up policy agendas, and their implications for the construction sector
  • workforce, skills and supply chain priorities and moving forward from Brexit
  • next steps for innovation, sustainability and productivity in the delivery of housing and other construction projects

With keynote contributions from BEIS, Mark Farmer and the National Federation of Builders - the conference is bringing stakeholders together with key policy officials who are due to attend from BEIS; MHCLG; the HSE; HMRC; Homes England; the Home Office; Defra; DIT; DfT; Cadw; and the Welsh Government.

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 and productivity - reducing environmental impact. the route to net-zero, and next steps for modern methods of construction
  • Workforce priorities - skills, apprenticeships, diversity and managing shortages
  • Following transition from the EU - supply chains, the workforce and standards

Areas for discussion:

  • the Planning White Paper - with discussion on the impact on the sector, zoning, local plans and timescales, and the rolling out of digital planning
  • the National Infrastructure Strategy - what it means for the construction sector, assessing the range of key projects, and the support, industry action and further policy needed for implementation
  • the new national construction products regulator - assessing their powers, what will be needed to ensure effectiveness, and priorities as they approach their role
  • the Government’s wider policy agenda - the green industrial revolution, build back better, levelling up and infrastructure-led recovery:
    • how the sector can maximise the opportunities for growth, and the support that may be needed for it to play its central role in achieving policy objectives
    • key practical issues for implementation and how they can be addressed - including skills, investment, regulatory clarity, and policy stability
  • Brexit:
    • the new immigration system - strategies for tackling workforce and skills deficits and supply chain issues, and options for support to achieve policy objectives in housing and infrastructure
    • supply chains - how the sector is adapting to the post-transition arrangements, including procurement and standardisation issues for building products, materials and machinery
  • employment regulation and business practice - subcontractors, key issues for contractors in compliance, including employment status for a flexible workforce
  • COVID-19:
    • sector growth - what is needed for the industry to manage and sustain positive trends in home building and commercial construction
    • policy - assessing government plans in the face of site shutdowns, added safety measures, supply chain disruption, and cash flow pressures
    • the Infrastructure Delivery Taskforce - assessing progress and priorities in achieving its aim of fast-tracking the building of schools, hospitals, roads and prisons
  • innovation:
    • 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

Relevant developments:

  • the National Infrastructure Strategy - with a focus on the role of the construction sector, its contribution to plans for economic recovery, and continuing initiatives to improve its productivity
  • 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
  • New regulator established to ensure construction materials are safe - following recommendations in Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent inquiry
    • to ensure homes are built from safe materials, following the Grenfell Inquiry highlighting allegations of manufacturer malpractice with regard to safety protocols
    • with the ability to remove products believed to pose significant safety risks and prosecute companies who fail to comply with safety regulations
    • set to conduct independent product testing when undertaking investigations into product safety concerns
  • The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution - the PM’s major initiative, aligned with the build back better and renewable energy agenda, with a focus on the role of construction and investment in infrastructure, skills development, and new employment opportunities
  • the Construction Playbook - with rules that government bodies, and those they contract with in the supply chain, should follow in the procurement, collaboration and delivery of public works
  • workforce concerns following Brexit - The University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory finding a 46% decrease in the number of EU nationals working in the construction sector from 2018-19
  • 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'
  • 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

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved from Parliamentary pass-holders from the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group, as well as officials from BEIS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; the Department for Transport; Greater London Authority; the Health and Safety Executive; HM Revenue & Customs; Homes England; the Home Office; MHCLG; Cadw; and the Welsh Government.

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

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript 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

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles