Labour wins UK election: urged to create a safer and greener construction industry

The construction industry has reacted with cautious optimism to the news that the Labour party has won the 2024 general election in the UK, bringing to an end 14-years of Conservative led government.

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer looks on after winning his seat at Holborn & St Pancras during the UK election in London, Britain, July 5 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco during the UK election in London, Britain, July 5 2024. REUTERS/Claudia Greco

Labour’s leader, and the new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer, has said that he plans to introduce a new industrial strategy, developed in partnership with businesses through an Industrial Strategy Council. It is hoped that this collaboration will drive growth and innovation, benefiting the construction equipment industry and the wider economy.

The party has also promised to build 1.5 million new homes in England over the next five years, to reform the planning system, fast-track approval of urban brownfield sites, prioritise the release of lower quality ‘grey belt’ land, and invest of £23.7 billion (US$30.2 billion) in green measures during the next parliament to aid decarbonisation.

Labour has also pledged to bring Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant to completion, as well as increasing rollout of small modular reactors (SMR) and invest nearly £5 billion (US$6.4 billion) in gigafactories, carbon capture and green hydrogen. 

Eddie Tuttle, director for policy, external affairs and research at the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), said, “We look forward to working with the Labour government to help deliver on their manifesto commitments, which included building 1.5 million homes over this Parliament (2024-2029), reforming the planning system, delivering a Warm Homes Plan to upgrade the energy efficiency of 5 million homes, and developing a national industrial strategy to drive economic growth.

“But to do this, we and the new government must be realistic about the challenges the construction industry is facing, notably the shrinking skills base and the ageing construction workforce, with significant numbers of workers retiring and a lack of new entrants joining.”

Construction industry reaction to new Labour government 

“This significant change in leadership presents a unique opportunity to propel the UK construction equipment industry into a new era of innovation and sustainability,” said Viki Bell, director of operations at the Construction Equipment Association (CEA).

“As the CEA, we are ready to engage actively with the new Labour government to address the crucial challenges and seize the opportunities highlighted in our 2024 Manifesto. The commitment to decarbonisation, digital transformation, and skills development outlined in Labour’s platform aligns closely with our industry’s goals.

The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) urged the government to unblock delayed projects and pursue economic growth.

CECA director of operations Marie-Claude Hemming said, “Our membership includes companies of all sizes in all parts of England, Scotland, and Wales – all of which are ready to work with government at all levels to drive growth in the economy, boost connectivity, and create well-paid, highly skilled jobs.

“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.”

Muyiwa Oki, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), said, “This is a monumental moment for the UK – and an opportunity for Labour to prove it will deliver on the changes it has committed to.

“Its manifesto doesn’t have all the answers, but it shows ambition – not least to tackle the housing crisis by boosting the delivery of high-quality homes and fixing our broken planning system. The time for bold, decisive action to deliver a safer, greener and more equitable built environment is now.”

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