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Construction Matters

September 5 2008

The Business and Enterprise Committee have published a report that calls on the government to appoint a “Chief Construction Officer”, who would drive forward best practice and become the main contact point for the industry.  A clearly identified senior government official with an operational role on both regulation and policy would allow the problems of fragmentation of construction policy and procurement to be resolved.

The report accuses the government of “not doing enough as a client” to expedite procurement and promote more integrated working. In addition a number of other issues have been taken up by the report. They include:

•    Project insurance to be trialled across government procurement projects.
•    The phasing out of retentions “as soon as possible”.
•    The introduction and use by the government of project bank accounts.
•    A reduction in VAT on all repair and maintenance work.
•    A contractual requirement on public sector clients to ensure occupational competence.
•    The rationalisation of pre-qualification schemes.

Peter Luff MP, Chairman of the Committee said: "When the committee began its work on the construction industry its commercial position was strong. Now industry, and particularly the house building sector, is facing a major downturn, yet it still generates over £100 billion of value-added for the UK economy—more than twice that of the energy, automotive and aerospace sectors combined. The public sector is by far its largest client and can drive change across the industry."

The government now has 90 days to issue its response to the issues and recommendations contained within the report.

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