Transforming construction methods will rebalance UK inequality

By Leila Steed24 March 2021

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A new construction industry report published by Mace has revealed how using greener, faster and more innovative production approaches in the construction industry can help drive the UK Government’s levelling up agenda.

“The new normal – levelling up in a post-COVID world” report says that changing the way the industry operates would create billions of pounds of extra investment for left-behind regions. It includes recommendations for how changes within the industry can “boost productivity and investment” in underperforming areas of the UK.

Mace said, “The UK suffers from some of the worst regional economic inequality in the developed world, with deprived areas across the country suffering from a historic lack of investment, outdated physical and digital infrastructure which in turn drive poor productivity and health outcomes.”

Aiming to address this, a key recommendation of the construction and consultancy firm’s report is the creation of a regional network of construction manufacturing hubs.

Mark Reynolds, Mace’s group chief executive, said, “By using innovative methodologies as a catalyst, construction can super-charge the levelling up agenda.

“If the Government is to deliver its ambitious plans for levelling up the UK economy, we must see a radical transformation in how our industry operates. We cannot expect radically different outcomes if we adopt the same approaches we always have. To see real change we must be prepared to do things differently.

“It is vital that the industry and government consider the findings of this research and place ‘construction-to-production’ at the heart of accelerating the levelling-up of the UK’s regions. By introducing innovative construction hubs, we can create much needed green jobs and generate billions in new investment, transforming opportunities for people in the country’s most deprived areas.”

According to Mace, the hubs could create around 124,000 green logistics and manufacturing jobs and help to increase growth in areas of the country that need it most – such as the East Midlands and the North West – while also helping to “drive £4.9bn of investment in the Government’s target ‘levelling up’ areas”.

Lord O’Neill of Gatley, vice chair of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said, “The much-needed economic recovery from COVID must account for existing regional inequalities across the UK. We mustn’t miss this opportunity to rebalance our economy properly; rather than replicating past mistakes and leaving the North still unfairly left behind.

“The construction industry is a cornerstone of the regional economy, a huge growth multiplier and has a critical role to play in levelling up. This report lays clear the scope of opportunity on offer – but only if Government and industry can work together to make it happen.”

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