All of our exhibitors, like our wider members, are facing various market pressures and challenges which we’re working with government to alleviate. Energy supply and security, financing, taxation, infrastructure, skills, planning regs, sustainability, and a need to agree an Industrial Strategy for Construction – many of these were touched upon by our Chairman, Geoff Cooper, speaking at our AGM and annual lunch. Around 500 guests, including members, politicians and the press, gathered Tuesday at the Dorchester for what has become the industry’s 'go-to' event. We also heard from Sajid Javid MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, who spoke of the government’s efforts to address the challenging times in which the construction industry presently finds itself.
Sajid Javid MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury.
In his capacity both as our Chairman and as Chief Executive of Travis Perkins, Geoff was later interviewed at TP’s Northampton distribution centre by Channel 4 News about his views on those same challenges. Spoiler alert: suffice to say that Geoff doesn’t see pre-’98 levels of activity in our industry until 2020 at the earliest.
Q1 levels of activity were reported Thursday with the release of GDP numbers, and it unfortunately confirmed what many already suspected: while the overall economy is, as the Chancellor said, “healing”, the construction industry fell by 2.5% quarter-on-quarter, the biggest decline of all the major sectors and the worst output since 1999. Interviewed on the BBC later that day, Noble Francis, our Economics Director, put it succinctly: there will be no long-term sustainable growth for the UK economy until these declines are addressed. [The Association’s prescription for healing the construction products sector begins with the suggestion that the government should invest the nearly £10 billion in funds it has promised yet withheld since 2011 for infrastructure and other building programmes.]
Finally, our Chief Executive, Dr Diana Montgomery, met with members of the British Woodworking Federation at their members’ day on Friday in Loughborough. The debate was lively re opportunities even in current economic times, the quality and value of products made in the UK, and on skills and apprenticeships. A great event, the largest BWF have hosted, and it certainly demonstrated the expertise and enthusiasm in the sector.
The following materials were released recently by the Construction Products Association:
- Construction Decline In 2013 But Growth In 2014 (22 April 2013)
- Business Minister Michael Fallon Shows Support For Construction Products Exhibition (23 April 2013)
- Construction Industry Needs Confidence And Certainty Say Association Chairman (23 April 2013)
- Economy May Be Healing But No Growth In Construction (25 April 2013)
For our members, these additional materials are also available: