The latest report from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) puts the economic influence of the UK construction sector at almost double that of the officially recorded figures by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
The CIOB’s new Real Face of Construction 2020 report sets out the sector’s giant reach into the economy, which officially accounts for about 6% of economic output of the UK and provides employment for 2.3 million people. However, the narrow ONS definition of the industry ignores the work of architects, engineers, and quantity surveyors as well as manufacturers dedicated to the sector and many other firms that support construction such as builders’ merchants and plant hire providers.
Caroline Gumble, Chief Executive of the CIOB, said: “The quality of our built environment affects every member of society; our work influences productivity and wellbeing at home and at work. It is both far-reaching and life-shaping. Our purpose for this report is to help educate policymakers about the true value of the built environment and the need to work in closer partnership with the industry to realise its full potential, particularly at a regional level where it can rebalance local economies and offer people a quality career unlike many others.”
The regional economy is important for any sector, and the CIOB report breaks down the value construction has on a regional level. It demonstrates the wide variations in regional performance and output that have occurred since 2013, indicating the need for careful, integrated policymaking at a local, regional and national level. The report includes regional data examining the number of construction businesses, output from the industry, stock of buildings, number of people employed by sector, annual earnings and key projects, demonstrating construction’s importance as an employer and driver of prosperity in each area.
The CIOB is calling for a better measure of the construction industry that includes all aspects of the design and construction process, not just the assembly on site. The report also draws on brand new research that gauges the public’s attitude towards the industry and their aspirations for the built environment. It makes the point that the UK construction industry has not reached its full potential and will only do so if it operates in an environment with a clear vision, with an understanding of different regional needs, and with a focus from policymakers armed with good quality data and information about this economically important sector.
The report argues that by including all aspects of the design and construction process, construction GDP could be close to double in size. Understanding the data is crucial, because if policymakers and experts do not have access to the full picture then bad decisions and, in turn, bad policy based on incomplete data is likely to be made. By showcasing the true reach of the industry this should also lead to greater attention from policymakers.
Sir James Wates CBE, Chairman of Wates Group and chairman of the CBI Construction Council welcomed the report and said: “We in the built environment sector know that we have a broader and more profound impact than we’re often given credit for. We are a network of contractors, architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, specialists, facility managers, and many others – all working as a team to create spaces, infrastructure and buildings that improve people’s lives and make the economy work better. We’re economic multipliers, and this new CIOB report helps us to articulate just how that’s so.”
The industry’s impact will be further championed this week thanks to a new report being launched by the CBI. The report will outline how contractor, client and policymaker behaviour change can improve the industry’s broken business model, strengthening the financial sustainability of the construction industry and enabling businesses to unlock investment in skills, innovation and technology that will support the modernisation of the industry.