Construction industry hopes Labour landslide will bring stability

The construction industry has reacted optimistically but cautiously after the Labour Party swept to a landslide victory in the general election.

As Keir Starmer takes power after a period of rising prices, rising interest rates and geopolicital instability, more than half (52 per cent) of construction professionals polled by data providers NBS and Glenigan said they expected more work after the election.

But the ministerial churn of the past few years has left many somewhat tentative. Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, research and public affairs at the Chartered Institute of Building, urged Starmer to ensure the new housing minister would stay in the role in the long term and consider elevating the post to a cabinet position.

“The construction sector is reliant on stability, and we urge the Labour Government to ensure consistency and longevity with policy making and its communications with industry,” he said.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of policy and market insight at the National Federation of Builders, said he had concerns about a lack of detail on manifesto pledges around promoting biodiversity and tackling pollution.

“What the construction industry now needs as we transition to a Labour Government, is clarity, detailed policy plans, and realistic timelines on the outcome of these proposed reforms,” he said.

Peter Hogg, UK cities director at consultancy Arcadis, urged Starmer to avoid the temptation of using his large majority to push through radical action, adding: “What the business and investor community want from government is certainty.”

Chris Cassley, policy manager at the Construction Plant-hire Association, said the government needed a” long-term vision” to address decarbonisation, productivity and housebuilding and infrastructure.

He said: “Providing the stability and economic foundations needed for lasting economic growth comes only from engagement with industry in understanding the challenges companies face – and how they can be overcome.”

John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, said Labour had a “clear idea of what it wants to do” and that he looked forward to hearing ministers’ plans for housing recovery.

Net zero

Building Research Establishment chief executive Gillian Charlesworth said she “look[s] forward to the implementation of ambitious manifesto pledges to decarbonise the UK economy and drive the energy transition forward.”

However, David Harris, chief executive at contractor Premier Modular Group, questioned Starmer’s ability to deliver on his green agenda.

He said: “With a focus on accelerating net zero, how will the new government marry this with delivering a 10-year infrastructure strategy, which includes the development of five new towns and clean energy sources, both of which are carbon-intensive projects?”

The Electrical Contractors’ Association warned that Labour’s environmental goals could be hindered by a shortage of skilled electricians. A spokesperson said: “The current state of the electrical skills system demands early attention. It takes four years to develop the core competencies needed for electrical work and installation.

“We urge the new government to take this first step on the path to achieving the 2030 target set out in the manifesto.”

The organisation also called on the new government to introduce laws to fix poor payment practices. “Most of the construction industry is united behind calling for protective legislation to stop the abuse of retentions and improve payment performance,” the spokesperson added.


Civil Engineering Contractors Association director of operations Marie-Claude Hemming said its member organisations were ready to work with the new government to “drive growth in the economy, boost connectivity and create well-paid, highly skilled jobs”.

She said: “A booming infrastructure sector is the backbone of any successful economy, and we are heartened that the Labour Party has recognised the UK’s civil engineering industry as a cornerstone of its vision for delivering growth for the benefit of businesses and communities across the UK.”

Michael Riordan, UK managing director at consultancy Linesight, praised Labour’s plans to class data centres as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, which can bypass normal local planning requirements.

He added: “Key to reaping the benefits of this policy will be further prioritising the building of data centres in urban areas, where latency will be reduced, ensuring optimal performance.”


Housebuilders unsurprisingly welcomed the new leader’s commitment to build 1.5 million homes and create several new towns.

Neil Jefferson, chief executive of the Home Builders Federation, said his organisation welcomed the government’s commitments on planning.

“If government can create a pro-development policy environment, the industry stands ready to deliver,” he said.

Meanwhile, Craig Carson, managing director of developer Barratt West London, said Starmer’s focus on brownfield and greybelt land will “help unlock large swathes of land for development, including former car parks and commercial units.”

There are still some areas of concern. Lindsay Garratt, planning partner at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, said that Labour’s omission of housing as one of its six key priorities in its manifesto disappointed many in the sector.

She said: “To really get Britain building, the incoming government needs to quickly get to grips with the full extent of viability pressures currently experienced by those at the coal face of housing delivery.”

Her colleague Greg Carter noted the omission of building safety from the election campaign, adding: “There are over 30 pieces of secondary legislation that developers are grappling with, causing significant operational and financial challenges that risk upsetting the delivery of homes.

“As developers continue to invest significant time and money in these changes, the new government must deliver the clarity and certainty it needs.”


Justin Young, chief executive of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, called on Labour to address the skills shortage by creating a built environment taskforce to map future labour needs and improve early years engagement.

Caddick construction group managing director Paul Dodsworth said the government needed to engage industry to grow the construction workforce.

He said: “We’re a highly skilled workforce, but we are dwindling in numbers and while we all play our part and take every opportunity we can to invest in new talent, we’re in danger of falling short due to lack of investment from the government and the impact of Brexit.”

Trevor Wilkins, managing director at SME contractor PAH Building & Construction, said Labour’s manifesto pledge to overhaul the apprenticeship levy “must now be met with action”.

He said: “In order to show support for SMEs in the construction sector, the new government should provide easier access to apprenticeship funds and provide incentives to recruit and retain talent in the industry to close the critical skills gap.”

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