Built environment policies essential for rebalancing the UK economy, CIOB tells MPs

The CIOB Guide to the Built Environment is accompanied by a specially commissioned report, The Real Face of Construction, which explains the increasing complexity and sophistication of the sector and its broad reach across Government departments from hospitals, schools, prisons, housing and urban planning to major transport and energy projects such as Crossrail or Hinkley Point B.

The CIOB warns against short term policies, calling for holistic strategies to tackle some major 21st century challenges: reducing carbon emissions, protecting against climate change and creating flexible and longer-lasting structures that can be more easily adapted to the changing needs of generations.

Key challenges for Government and industry include:

·         Tackling the shortage of skilled UK workers, which could slow down projects that are important for economic recovery.  Nearly 20% of the industry’s workforce is set to retire within the next 5 to 10 years, while enrolment in construction degree courses and apprenticeships is in decline.

·         Using construction as a driver of local growth. London currently accounts for a disproportionate 20% of all work; the industry could provide jobs that directly benefit local communities in other parts of the UK, particularly in areas of high unemployment.

·         Meeting international climate change commitments of reducing carbon emissions by 80% (from the 1990 baseline).

The Real Face of Construction seeks to raise awareness of the sector’s giant reach into the economy: including inputs from supporting sectors, construction accounts for 15.3% of GDP, employs 3 million people and contributes £250 billion to UK plc.

The report also demonstrates that wide variations in regional performance and output have occurred since the 2007 recession, indicating the need for careful, integrated policy making at a local, regional and national level.

The CIOB’s Guide to the Built Environment and Real Face of Construction report are being sent to MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates to brief them on the socio-economic importance of construction as well as bring them up to speed with how the industry works. The suite of documents will be formally launched at each of the three main party conferences.

Chris Blythe, Chief Executive of the CIOB said: “Construction is often simplistically viewed in terms of employment statistics and visible work on building sites, but this overlooks the increasingly high-tech nature of an industry that is leading on innovation and contributing directly to national productivity.

“The quality of our buildings has a lasting impact on the wellbeing of individuals and communities across all regions and sectors.

“Much political and media attention focuses on house building and, while this is an extremely important issue, it actually accounts for a minority of total UK construction output. We would like to see discussions become integrated into a much wider agenda. The decisions made today will be felt for decades and generations.”

To download a copy of the guide and the report go to policy.ciob.org



The Chartered Institute of Building is at the heart of a management career in construction.

We are the world's largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership.  We have a Royal Charter to promote the science and practice of building and construction for the benefit of society, and we’ve been doing that since 1834. Our members work worldwide in the development, conservation and improvement of the built environment.

We accredit university degrees, educational courses and training. Our professional and vocational qualifications are a mark of the highest levels of competence and professionalism, providing assurance to clients and other professionals procuring built assets.

Further information is available by contacting Saul Townsend on stownsend@ciob.org.uk or +44 (0) 1344 630 766.

Construction GDP at 15.3%

The question of the size of construction as a percentage of the economy rests on the difference between the net contribution of construction as an on-site activity only (i.e. the last stage in a process of assembly), and the share of the production of the built environment as a final good. Construction value added represents 7.4% of all value added, a concept used to establish the total size of the economy, avoiding counting the inputs into the construction process from other sectors such as manufacturing, real estate, etc. When you take these inputs into account the value of construction output (i.e. GDP) increases. As the size of the economy remains the same, the result is that construction is 15.3% of the economy.

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David Barnes ACIPR
Research, Communications & Policy Officer
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
t: +44 (0)1344 630 881
e: dbarnes@ciob.org.uk w: www.ciob.org