Strengthening the UK construction sector

Jon Vanstone
Jon Vanstone

By Jon Vanstone, chair of Certass Trade association.

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has long stood as a beacon of guidance and strategic planning for the UK’s construction sector. In its latest Bi-Annual Review for 2023 and the Plan for 2024, the CLC recaps the year’s achievements and challenges and also charts a course for future endeavours.

This announcement comes at a critical time when the industry faces unique challenges and opportunities, especially in sustainability, innovation, and inclusivity. To maximise its impact in 2024, the CLC emphasises the importance of collaboration with industry regulators and broadening its influence beyond Tier 1 contractors, engaging with organisations like the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) to reach deeper into the sector’s fabric.

Reflecting on 2023

The past year has tested the resilience of the UK construction industry, from economic turbulence and global conflicts affecting markets to the pressing need to address the climate emergency. Despite these challenges, the sector has made significant strides, thanks in part to the CLC’s efforts in promoting innovation, productivity, and sustainability.

The council’s role in safeguarding R&D tax credits and facilitating progress in the planning system are just two examples of its commitment to improving the sector’s foundation​​.

The CLC has been limited to the Tier 1 contractors and related supply chains. However, through its strength of voice within the council, it has brought a leadership steer from which other areas of construction can take a proportionate position.

The 2024 vision

For 2024, the CLC has laid out ambitious plans that highlight the need for the construction sector to adapt and evolve. Key initiatives include enhancing building safety, fostering a path to domestic retrofit for carbon emission reduction, and reshaping the industry’s approach to skills development.

These goals are not just lofty aspirations but actionable plans designed to elevate the industry’s standards and output​​.

To realise its 2024 vision, the CLC acknowledges the necessity of working closely with industry regulators. This collaboration is pivotal for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures that the regulatory framework aligns with the industry’s transition towards sustainable and innovative practices.

Secondly, it facilitates the smooth implementation of new standards and regulations, particularly those related to building safety and environmental sustainability. By engaging with regulators, the CLC can help mitigate potential roadblocks, ensuring that policies are both effective and practicable.

Building Safety Regulator (BSR) is already a sizeable impact in construction and with its strengthening of powers and path to enforcement in the year ahead, industry needs to work to the expectations it sets. This is why bodies such as CLC and NHIC are in consistent dialogue to aid the industry transition.

Expanding reach

A notable aspect of the CLC’s strategy is its commitment to inclusivity, aiming to extend its influence beyond Tier 1 construction companies to encompass the entire industry spectrum. This is where partnerships with bodies like the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC) become invaluable.

The NHIC, with its extensive network and focus on improving housing standards and sustainability, can act as a conduit for the CLC’s initiatives, bringing them to a wider audience.

By collaborating with such organisations, the CLC ensures its efforts benefit a broader range of stakeholders, from small contractors and specialist trades like glazing, to housebuilders and material suppliers​​.

A collective effort

The CLC’s Bi-Annual Review for 2023 and Plan for 2024 highlight a clear path forward for the UK construction industry, emphasising sustainability, innovation, and inclusivity. The success of this vision hinges on effective collaboration with industry regulators and a concerted effort to engage with the entire construction ecosystem, including partnerships with organisations like the NHIC.

The CLC continues to be connected closely to Government and in particular the Department for Business and Trade, which ensures that it will continue to be listened to although an upcoming election may have an impact once we step into 2025.

As the CLC continues to lead the way, the collective effort of all industry participants will be crucial in overcoming current challenges and seizing the opportunities that lie ahead. In doing so, the sector can not only meet the demands of the present but also lay the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable future.