Good News for Construction Should be Good News for Communities

April’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data shows how construction is helping to lead the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery. Across civils, infrastructure and house building, activity is picking up rapidly, fuelled to a large extent by government investment and the acceleration of stalled projects.

The project pipeline looks more secure than it has for many years – and that should give us the confidence to redouble our efforts to deliver social value through every project. As businesses in the construction sector recover, we must bring communities with us.

Given what people up and down the country have been through, government investment in construction projects offers a great opportunity to help those communities most affected economically to recover. This will be particularly relevant as support through the job retention initiatives is phased out.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Scape showed that a government-funded and construction-led recovery has wide support among the public. 40% of UK adults were reportedly willing to pay more council tax to support construction-led job creation in their area

Economic Sustainability

There are plenty of reasons why social value delivered by investing in local communities and supply chains should be top of our agenda. Not only is it the right thing to do but it’s also essential if we want an economically sustainable industry.

The shortage of skilled labour is still with us. During the course of the lockdowns, it has, if anything, become worse. Construction News recently reported on how the lower number of EU-born workers in the construction sector is starting to push up labour costs. More than one in four EU-born construction workers left the industry between September 2019 and September 2020 (source: ONS).

This adds further impetus to the need to work in communities to equip people with the skills they need to fill roles and encourage new entrants to our industry. And, as our industry continues its transformation towards greener, digitally-enabled methods, it is becoming more accessible than ever – with opportunities to suit a wider range of aptitudes and interests.

Because so much has changed it makes sense to step back and assess whether social value activities deliver the best possible outcomes. This is something we look forward to doing with our local authority and community partners in the weeks and months ahead.

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