As the UK braces for a forthcoming general election later this year, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) has proactively outlined its set of priorities for the prospective government.
Amidst the backdrop of anticipated political shifts, CECA is strategically positioning its demands to garner attention and influence policy-making.
CECA’s recently published manifesto, ‘Priorities for an incoming government 2024/25’, is an amalgamation of ambitious goals and pragmatic requests. While some objectives may appear somewhat general or modest – a characteristic often seen in committee-driven documents – their underlying significance is profound. A notable example is the call for a comprehensive transport strategy. Although devoid of specific recommendations, this appeal underscores the necessity for a robust policy framework in this sector.
Contrastingly, the association’s stance on retentions has evolved from advocating outright elimination to urging swifter progress towards their abolition, reflecting a more tempered approach.
The key priorities outlined by CECA include:
• Commitment to the ‘future’ by continuing the execution of projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Strategy.
• ‘Maintaining confidence’ through the ‘star chamber’ for infrastructure, as announced in the 2023 autumn statement, ensuring infrastructure remains a cornerstone of policy.
• ‘Enabling regions to thrive’ by advancing the ‘levelling up’ agenda, aiding local authorities with expert planning advice, and addressing project bottlenecks.
• Achieving ‘world-class connectivity’ by unveiling a detailed transport strategy for England that complements the devolved transport authorities, along with providing five-year capital and indicative funding plans.
• Strengthening ‘resilience’ through a national water strategy, enhancing the wastewater network, and reducing water consumption.
• Supporting SMEs by hastening the elimination of retentions and adapting social value requirements to their needs.
• ‘Maximising best practice & driving innovation’ by promoting adherence to industry-
leading models and frameworks in both the public and private sectors.
• ‘Delivering skills’ by developing a construction-focused apprenticeship system supported by public sector clients.
Marie-Claude Hemming, CECA’s Director of Operations, emphasized the critical role these priorities play in shaping the future UK government’s agenda. “These priorities are pivotal for the next UK government, regardless of the winning party or coalition in the upcoming general election. The UK economy has weathered numerous challenges recently, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The key to revitalizing dynamic growth in the UK economy lies in stability, certainty, and clear project trajectories,” Hemming stated.
She further stressed the importance of these policies for setting the UK on a path to sustainable prosperity through exceptional infrastructure delivery. “Businesses and communities throughout Great Britain are counting on the next UK government to make the right decisions. Collaborating with the industry is essential to stimulate growth, create employment opportunities, and build a robust economy for the UK’s future,” Hemming concluded.