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New construction minister to receive divided Brexit message at UK Construction Week

The
new Construction Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP is set to make his first industry
appearance at UK Construction Week (UKCW), the UK’s largest built
environment event, at the NEC in Birmingham on Wednesday 9 October.

A
survey of over 900 construction professionals conducted by UKCW[1]
asked respondents what their one request to the Construction Minister and the
Government would be.

The
results of the survey revealed an increasingly impatient industry still focused
on Brexit, but split between those who want the Government to ‘Get Brexit
completed’ (37%, with the vast majority of those favouring a “no ifs or buts”
approach), and those who want to ‘Cancel Brexit altogether’ (32%). 

Within
the industry itself, the research reveals that it’s mostly architects who are
Remainers, with 57% of those respondents choosing to make ‘Cancel Brexit’ their
number one request, compared to 15% choosing ‘Get Brexit completed’.

This
swaps over when it comes to contractors, with 44% of those respondents choosing
‘Get Brexit completed’ compared to 20% choosing ‘Cancel Brexit’.

Other
political and policy issues came much further down the list. The alternative
number one requests from respondents were for the Government to speed up
initiatives in construction to tackle climate change (9%), the cancellation of
HS2 (a surprising 4%, mostly from consultants), and reform to planning laws and
policies to make it easier to build (3%).

Nathan
Garnett, UKCW event director, said:

“The
splits in the construction industry’s views simply reflect what’s happening in
society generally. But it is a really difficult time for this sector at the
moment, a sector that absolutely hates uncertainty. The Minister will hear this
very clearly when he attends this year’s event – whether it’s deal or no deal,
or cancelling it altogether, we just want to know how to prepare for the
future.”

Despite
the uncertainties, and to help the 30,000 or more industry delegates expected
at the show, UK Construction Week is hosting a wide range of CPDs and keynote
speeches to explain what can be done to prepare for the post-Brexit future.

For
example, a major debate on the UKCW main stage will take place on Wednesday 9
October, on Brexit Boom or Bust? Industry Economic
Forecast 2020.
This features Professor Noble Francis, economics director at the CPA, Tom Hall,
chief economist at Barbour ABI, and Lord Digby Jones, cross bench peer and
businessman.

The
Office for Product Safety and Standards will be holding workshops on timber regulations and the
impact of a no-deal exit on timber importers.

The
Department for Work and Pensions will be advising construction professionals in
the UKCW Careers Centre and HMRC is in the Civils area of the show (stand C21).
In addition, the Department for Education will be promoting apprenticeships and
talking about educational options in the UK for EU nationals post-Brexit.

Nadhim
Zahawi MP was appointed in July as the third Construction Minister so far this
year.  He will be giving a keynote address on the UKCW Main Stage on day
two of the event, at 2:15pm. Pre-booking is strongly advised.

UKCW
is one event with many sections, including Build sponsored by Easy-Trim,
Building Tech, Civils, Energy and HVAC, Surface and Materials, and Timber. It
also features Concrete Expo (8-9 October only) and Grand Designs Live (9-10
October only). Single registration gives free access to all
areas of the show. Pre-booking is also strongly recommended for the extensive seminars and CPD programme.

Find
out more about UKCW at: https://www.ukconstructionweek.com/


[1] Research
with 906 respondents within the construction industry and registered to attend
UK Construction Week was conducted in September 2019.

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