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Watts Bulletin (Issue 135)

Welcome to the July issue of the Watts Bulletin, traditionally a quiet time of year for the construction industry. With consistently poor figures published for construction industry performance in 2012, followed yesterday (25 July) by news that the UK is experiencing the worst double-dip recession in 50 years, all eyes are focused on government initiatives to boost activity in the sector.

In this issue we look at two proposals, now out for consultation, that are aimed at further streamlining the planning process to promote growth and encourage development. We also report on the government’s plans for the Green Deal, the launch of the BREEAM domestic refurbishment scheme and a new mandatory regime for greenhouse emissions reporting which will impact on 50 of the largest property companies.

Watts Bulletin (Issue 135)

Failure to launch?

The Government Construction Strategy has had little impact on public procurement, according to research carried out by Building magazine.

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One year down the line, research revealed by Building magazine last month points to a poor response from the public sector to the Government Construction Strategy, published in June 2011. According to the findings, up to 75% of public sector clients are ignoring the key recommendations of the strategy, the brainchild of the government’s chief construction adviser, Paul Morrell.

Building polled 110 construction clients from central government and the wider public sector as part of a client survey. According to the research, three quarters of public sector clients either won’t change the way they procure projects in response to the reforms or are unsure whether or not it will have an impact on their procurement methods.

The programme calls for the public sector to reform the way it procures construction projects in order to reduce building costs by between 15% and 20% over the life of the current parliament. According to Building’s research, only 31% of public sector clients said they had a strategy to reduce construction costs by this percentage, compared with 41% that said they didn’t. Only 6% of those polled said they had made a significant change, with 20% saying they had changed “marginally”. Almost half of those public sector clients polled said the strategy had made no difference to their working methods. The rest told researchers they “didn’t know” what impact, if any, the strategy had made to them.

Perhaps the most worrying point highlighted by the research is that more than half of those polled believe that the government’s focus on cost cutting is likely to lead to a reduction in the quality of public buildings.

“The figures are likely to be unsettling for the government in advance of [the] high profile Government Construction Summit, and they come despite widespread support for the strategy from much of the industry and evidence of uptake within central government,” Building reported in June. However, a government spokesman denied that the strategy is being ignored, saying “...it’s not true to suggest that there has been little change since the introduction of the construction strategy.”

To find out more, contact Daniel Webb, Director at Watts Group PLC, on 020 7280 8078.

Has the Government Construction Strategy had an impact on your working practices or do you think it has been largely ignored by the industry? Share your views on Watts’ Twitter page @Watts_Group or join the Watts Bulletin group on LinkedIn.

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The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.

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