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Industrial Strategy includes £170m for construction sector

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing construction / iStock-641025504

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark has launched a white paper that aims to boost Britain's productivity performance and embrace technological change.

The strategy announces four "Grand Challenges" - artificial intelligence, clean growth, ageing society and future of mobility - with the government inviting businesses, academia and civil society to work with the government to develop new technologies.

Clark said: “The Industrial Strategy is an unashamedly ambitious vision for the future of our country, laying out how we tackle our productivity challenge, earn our way in the future, and improve living standards across the country.”

The white paper commits a further £725 million over the next three years in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISFC), with the aim of responding to global challenges and opportunities faced by the UK.

This includes £170 million to “transform” the construction sector and help create affordable places for people to live and work in that are safer, healthier and use less energy.

According to the white paper, the way buildings are created in the UK has not change substantially change in 40 years and “needs a drastic overhaul if it is to deliver the building that the UK needs”.

It says that construction is currently expensive and too many buildings waste energy.

Through the Construction Leadership Council, the government and the construction sector has agreed a sector deal to transform its productivity.

The potential of sector deal was first announced in January by Prime Minister Theresa May in an industrial strategy green paper, for which almost 2,000 consultation responses were submitted.

The government said the sector’s productivity will be boosted through greater investment in innovation and skills, creating new and well-paid jobs and maximising potential. This is expected to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency and reduce whole life cost of new projects and the buildings to ensure new homes, schools, hospitals and major transport projects that are needed are built.

The construction sector, with the government, will work to drive increased investment in skills development, while adopting a more strategic and coordinated approach to recruitment, and making sure workers are equipped with the skills needed for the future.

The Industrial Strategy states: "This will be achieved through a joint commitment to implement reforms to the Construction Industry Training Board to make it more strategic and industry led, and to enable the sector to make best use of funding from the Apprenticeship Levy."

The white paper also features the Clean Growth Strategy, announced in October.

The white paper notes that the government “will aim to maximise UK businesses’ share of the global markets as they are transformed by the shift to clean growth, and make our country one of the best places in the world to develop and sell clean technologies”.

The government has already committed £1 billion to the first round of Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund projects, including the Faraday Challenge, which Clark announced in July.

This will see £246 million invested into battery technology. The investment aims to ensure that the UK builds on its strengths and leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of electric batteries.

The four-year investment round is a “coordinated programme” of competitions that aims to boost both the research and development of expertise in battery technology.

The first phase includes a £45 million ‘Battery Institute’ competition to establish a centre for battery research to make technology more accessible and affordable.

In addition, today’s release of the white paper sees three new clean growth programmes launched across energy, construction and agriculture.

The government said it will review the roles and responsibilities of local enterprise partnerships and will bring forward reforms to leadership and geographical boundaries.

Also, the white paper outlines a number of Budget announcements, including that the National Productivity Investment Fund increased from £23 billion to £31 billion and a new Transforming Cities fund that will provide £1.7 billion for intracity transport.

Reaction, including from the RTPI, to the Industrial Strategy white paper can be found here on The Planner.

Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain Fit for the Future can be found on the UK Government website (pdf).

Image credit | iStock