Steves Blog

Agenda 15 and a new Cabinet post

31 March 2015

Building Magazine launched its manifesto for construction, Agenda 15, in January with the intention of influencing the next government by setting out what construction needs to thrive in the years ahead.

The manifesto comprises eight recommendations, including the:

  • creation of an independent infrastructure body – to prioritise the UK’s needs, which will be overseen by a newly appointed cabinet minister with the responsibility for developing and implementing the infrastructure plan;
  • reinstatement of a national housing target and a genuine plan to meet it, including oversight of housing projects above 5,000 home;
  • supporting industry's efforts to train the next generation of construction workers and visibility of future projects through the publication of the government construction pipeline in providing greater workload certainty through expanded and ring fenced programmes of school building, social housing construction and maintenance of the health estate;

In the run up to the general election the main partners are clambering over each other, in the hope of winning over floating voters and the opportunity to reach new ones, to support such initiatives that affect business and people at the coal face.

In the past week Mr Miliband has confirmed that in his first Queen speech Labour will establish an independent National Infrastructure Commission to identify long-term infrastructure needs, from energy to flood defences and transport. Part of which includes at least 200,000 homes a year built by 2020, providing up to 230,000 jobs in construction.

Hot on his heels was Nick Clegg stating that he completely agrees with Building's Agenda 15 and its call for new Garden Cities, like Letchworth and Welwyn. He confirmed that they will build 10 of them, some of which will be built between Oxford and Cambridge, as well as the new infrastructure, including restoring a direct rail link between the two cities.

Finally, the prime minister alluded to, in one of his new pumped up style campaign speeches, the new cabinet post of Infrastructure Secretary could be only be filled by a man vision and a track record of delivering high profile infrastructure schemes. That man is Boris, based on his oversight of schemes including Crossrail and the 2012 Olympics.

This level of exposure and support for major construction and infrastructure projects clearly instils confidence for those in our industry and it is comforting that all three main parties have made commitments to support Agenda 15 and its recommendations at least through the term of the next government.

With only a short time to go until polling day only time will tell which party candidate will fill the shoes of the new coveted cabinet post of Infrastructure Secretary.

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