The time is right for the creation of a new, cross-party manufacturing strategy to address the persistent and serious challenges facing the entire supply chain, said John Sinfield, the new Chairman of the Construction Products Association.
Sinfield was addressing 500 industry executives and government officials at the Association’s Annual Lunch. He highlighted the fact that, at the same event a year ago, his predecessor Geoff Cooper spoke of “the darkest hour comes just before the dawn”.
Sinfield said: “A year ago, if you remember, we had just had the worst quarter on record and the snow was just melting” and pointed out the Association’s latest forecasts that the construction industry’s contribution to the wider UK economy will grow from £110 bn this year to £130 bn by 2017.
“It appears we really have turned the corner, with the recovery lead primarily by private housing and supported by infrastructure.”
Sinfield called upon policy makers and industry to recognise that, “Given all the political uncertainty over the coming year, we need manufacturing to be underpinned by a vibrant, long-term, cross-party industrial strategy which enables the UK to capture supply chain advantages for firms here in this country.
“The issues we face include the very real questions and regulatory uncertainty over energy security and costs, including carbon measures; the need to improve the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock in this country; the continuing difficulties many of our members have in accessing finance; and, the need to replace a ‘lost generation’ of skilled labour across both construction and manufacturing.
“As chairman I look forward to leading efforts to help bring key players together to find a way forward on these matters. Within the business community we have a wide range of business interests but a common goal, and our expertise and knowledge can offer policy makers credible, workable solutions.
“The association is already undertaking a number of projects in support of the Industrial Strategy for Construction which are at the heart of these matters. One is a study of a long-term projection of construction output and an analysis of the current level of capacity for construction product manufacturing, which has been published today.
“Another is to assess the regulatory and political risks that may inhibit further investment in businesses here. All of this will provide clarity and insight for policy-makers and help them appreciate the challenges we face.”
“There is a tremendous amount of very important work to be done which will have a very real impact on our businesses”, Sinfield concluded. “However, we are well placed as the leading voice within our industry to help the wider construction and manufacturing communities to engage and work together.”