CIOB responds to Comprehensive Spending Review
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has responded to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The CIOB welcomes the long-awaited publication of the National Infrastructure Strategy and looks forward to the detailed plans for £100 billion capital spending on infrastructure as announced by the Chancellor. This will provide the construction industry with the stable pipeline of future work it needs to help the nation build back from Covid-19. The plans for a new infrastructure bank will also help channel private investment into capital projects and support the delivery of net-zero targets. The CIOB stands ready to support the Government’s Project Speed Reforms and to champion the increased use of cutting-edge construction technologies.
However, without a significant commitment to the decarbonisation of our homes and buildings, we will not be able to meet the net-zero target. With the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicting a rise of unemployment to a peak of 7.5 per cent, or 2.6 million people in the second quarter of next year, the repair and maintenance of the UK’s existing housing stock is an example of labour intensive, socially valuable project that can support employment when workloads are down. The CIOB urges the Government to incorporate a long-term national retrofit plan into the Infrastructure Strategy, to give industry the certainty it needs to invest in a green recovery and ensure that our built environment is fit for future purpose.
The CIOB is pleased to see that the Government has published a refreshed Green Book, focusing on including net-zero, prioritising the impact of emissions and levelling up. The CIOB has long called for the Green Book to be updated to help ensure that social value is robustly measured and appropriately assessed alongside financial value, and that investment delivers holistic benefits to communities across the UK.
The £4 billion levelling up fund will be a key driver growth across the UK and will encourage greater construction output across all towns and regions. The CIOB is pleased to see the adoption of a place-based approach, and encourages the Government to consult widely with professional bodies and built environment stakeholders as it implements reforms to the planning system to ensure the creation and strengthening of healthy, sustainable and liveable places for our communities.
The CIOB's Real Face of Construction 2020 report found that 67 per cent of built environment users surveyed felt that the Government should spend more money on road repairs. It, therefore, welcomes the £1.6 billion allocated for local roads in 2021-22. Tackling potholes and congestion points, and upgrading roads are sustained, important work that will substantially improve communities and the daily lives of citizens.
Lastly, while further flexibility for businesses using Apprenticeship Levy funds is encouraging, the CIOB urges the Government to implement an appeals process for employers who have reached the 24-month expiry date for use of funds. Ultimately, a sustainable, equitable recovery from Covid-19 must be supported by a shift in education to reflect the skills needs of the future. The allocation of £291 million for Further Education and £375 million to deliver the Lifetime Skills Guarantee are important steps towards skilling and upskilling the future workforce in modern, low-carbon skills. However, the CIOB would like to see a detailed strategy of how the Government plans to increase the numbers of young people going into overlooked sectors such as construction and urge them to work with the sector to identify in-demand skills and promote accessibility.
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The Chartered Institute of Building responds to today’s construction output figures published by the Office for National Statistics.