With 2014 now arrived, I believe we can look back on 2013 as a pivotal turning point in the fortunes of our industry, with the Construction Products Association continuing to play a key role in helping our members address the challenges ahead.
To begin with, despite still coming out of one of the worst downturns in memory and the prevailing headwinds, we have been encouraged by increasing evidence that the market has finally turned a corner. Our economic forecast projects that construction will grow every year between 2014 and 2017 – a total of 18% – with expectations that the positive momentum in the private housing, infrastructure and commercial sectors will broaden to benefit more of our members’ businesses.
This boost to the bottom line has been supplemented by a potentially game-changing opportunity for the industry in the guise of the new Industrial Strategy for Construction. The Association has invested considerable time and resources over the past year to help develop the Strategy in partnership with government and ensure that the interests of product manufacturers and distributors are fully represented. We are now focused on delivering several key projects:
- Preliminary projections of construction output to 2025, which should provide invaluable data for corporate business case development;
- A construction product manufacturing capacity and capability gap analysis to understand what may drive or inhibit UK investment and growth;
- Development of a regulatory and political risk roadmap to understand the consequences of government actions on the sector’s production and costs in order to better understand productivity, and hence UK competiveness;
- Develop, with UKTI, tools to encourage SME’s to export products.
All of these actions will help us work towards achieving the target of a 50% reduction in the trade gap.
Whilst the work on the Industrial Strategy will continue to feature prominently in our objectives, the Association’s wider agenda remains uninterrupted. Our Industry Affairs team has been at the centre of efforts on numerous issues and projects having a direct impact on our members, foremost among them:
- Developing Guidance Notes for the Construction Products Regulation, and providing support to members with briefing seminars on the CPR and CE Marking;
- Negotiating with the UK’s Better Regulation Delivery Office through Cambridgeshire Trading Standards a Primary Authority Agreement which permits the online supply of Declarations of Performance, and providing Assured Advice to signatory members;
- Working with our members on the new Part L 2013 Building Regulations;
- Organising a 2-year pilot project funded by UKTI to promote exporting knowledge to SME’s within our membership;
- Continuing our long term activity across the industry, including with contractors, to ensure consistency in measuring and reporting sustainability performance, whilst referencing European and other formal standards;
- Promoting and showcasing the crucial role of manufacturers in delivering the low carbon, resource efficient built environment.
The Economics team’s substantive, authoritative research and commentary remains invaluable to members’ forward planning and industry observers such as policy makers and the media. The team’s work has broadened in 2013 through a new Economic Research Group focusing on bespoke analysis, and now includes input from academics.
Looking ahead, the objectives for the Association not only build on the aforementioned successes but also include a range of critical projects. We are a founding member of the Zero Carbon Hub’s major project that is seeking to resolve the differences between the as designed and as built energy performance of new homes.
In partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects, we are looking to publish updated editions of popular publications such as our “BIM for the terrified”, “A Guide to Understanding Embodied Impacts of Construction Products”, the “Loft Conversion Project Guide” and “A Guide to Low Carbon Domestic Refurbishment”. With BRE we will be building on the work of the Resource Efficiency Action Plans (REAPs) with a publication on material resource efficiency in the construction products sector.
We will also be working closely with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and our own members to survey and determine best practice in the area of outreach to young people, in order to help improve the industry’s image and raise its profile as a career option.
Last but not least, our External Affairs team is undertaking a study and stakeholder mapping exercise to inform a new communications and public affairs strategy. This will be a key element underpinning all of our teams’ actions and objectives during the run-up to the election cycle. We are particularly keen to ensure the Association’s activities in these areas complement and are integrated with those of our members. This work will also guide our plans to take a fresh look at our website and other channels of communication in order to make them as effective and user-friendly as possible.
As always, I hope you will continue to recognise and support the work of the Association and value what we do on the industry’s behalf. We certainly value the input you offer in return.
On behalf of the entire team at the Association, I wish you a very successful 2014.
Dr Diana Montgomery