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Civils contractors publish political manifesto

With a general election set to be held later this year, and a change of government currently looking likely, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) is making an early pitch for attention.

Some of its demands are either notably vague or unambitious, as might be considered typical for documents produced by committee. For example, CECA calls for a transport strategy but expresses no view on what that strategy should be.  The strategy is to have a strategy.

And CECA is no longer even calling for the outright abolition of retentions, but instead calls mildly for “accelerating progress in abolishing retentions”.

In its document, Priorities for an incoming government 2024/25, CECA’s demands are listed as:

  • Investing in ‘the future’ – through maintaining delivery of projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Strategy;
  • Maintaining confidence – by ensuring the ‘star chamber’ for infrastructure announced in the 2023 autumn statement puts infrastructure at the heart of policy-making;
  • Enabling regions to thrive – by pursuing the ‘levelling up’ agenda and supporting industry to develop an independent bank of expertise to offer local authorities advice on planning issues and unblocking projects;
  • Delivering ‘world-class connectivity’ – by publishing a transport strategy for England that supports the devolved transport authorities (Transport for London, Transport Scotland etc), with five-year capital settlements complemented by indicative five-year funding;
  • Strengthening ‘resilience’ – by publishing a national water strategy, upgrading the wastewater network and reducing water demand;
  • Supporting SMEs – by accelerating progress in abolishing retentions and ensuring social value requirements reflect SME needs;
  • Maximising best practice & driving innovation – by encouraging public and private sector clients to adopt and track progress against the use of best practice models such as the Construction Sector Playbook, Project 13 and the recent Cabinet Office frameworks review;
  • Delivering skills – by developing an apprenticeship system for construction employers that is supported by public sector clients.

CECA director of operations Marie-Claude Hemming said: “These priorities must form the basis of an incoming UK government, whichever party or parties emerge victorious from the next general election. The past number of years has seen the UK economy buffeted by a series of economic shocks, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Key to returning the UK economy to dynamic growth will be stability, certainty, and pipeline visibility.

“We are calling on all parties to adopt these policies to ensure the UK is set on a more sustainable and prosperous future through the delivery of world-class infrastructure.

“Businesses and communities across Great Britain a relying on the next UK government to get this right, by working with industry to drive growth, create jobs, and deliver the stronger economy the UK deserves in the years ahead.”

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