General Election 2017: 30 days to go

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From the outset, a shock snap general election was likely to exacerbate the already mounting uncertainty and speculation around the strength of the UK economy. This is certainly true in the short term – and is already evident in a fall in sterling, placing the public sector at risk of further Government spending cuts on top of the already significant pressure it has been put under.

However, looking at the big picture, the election should provide the stability the UK desperately needs, providing a new Government with a clear mandate to negotiate the UK’s future relationship with the EU through a period of transformation. A preferable alternative to a ‘cliff edge’ Brexit, and something that will certainly ease the minds of local authority chief executives and construction bosses.

A General Election also brings with it a chance for renewed commitments in manifesto pledges.

I would urge all parties to consider a cross-party consensus on a strategy to battle the construction skills crisis, specifically to deliver more UK based STEM skills, apprenticeships and training opportunities for young people.

The ‘when and why’ of Brexit should not overshadow the very pressing impact that leaving the EU will have on the workforce. If we are serious about growing our economy, it is vitally important that we quickly create capacity and skills to deliver much needed improvements to our built environment.

Mark Robinson, SCAPE Chief Executive

Additionally, it is key that a new Government does not lose momentum on its commitments to big Government funded infrastructure projects – namely HS2 and Crossrail 2.Instead the opportunity should be taken to create a strong mandate for speeding up the delivery of these vital long term projects, creating a stronger UK Plc.

To the same effect, reassurance should be given that devolution will remain a priority. The Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine have been hallmarks of a better way of working for a stronger and more connected Britain, and not just delivering in Whitehall’s backyard. However there is much more work to be done.

At the same time, it is crucial that local authority funding is not swept under the rug amid the Brexit noise. We have a chronic problem with our housing stock, which needs to be addressed in a coordinated and decisive manner. Our schools, hospitals, libraries and community centres are the lynchpins of life in the UK and the timely delivery of these buildings is being put under more and more pressure because budgets are being constantly squeezed.

All parties must consider how to ease financial pressure on planning, regulation and education departments, which are overwhelmed and under resourced. These crucial issues must not be neglected as the nation’s attention is deflected to Brexit – the need never goes away.

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Written by:

Mark Robinson

Group Chief Executive