‘Bytes and mortar’ construction revolution to build 50% quicker, says UK Government

An new partnership between the UK Government and the construction industry will be announced today by the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, in a speech to the Northern Powerhouse Summit in Newcastle.

With almost half of the economy reliant on the built environment and the services it enables, the Government is bringing together the construction, manufacturing, energy and digital sectors to “deliver innovative approaches that improve productivity in construction and accelerate a shift to building safer, healthier and more affordable places to live and learn that use less energy,” it said in a statement.

“The construction industry is fundamental to growing our economy as we build to invest in our future,” said Clark. “Major infrastructure projects like HS2 and the commitment to deliver 1.5 million homes by 2022 mean that we need a construction sector that can drive innovation, delivering homes and infrastructure quicker.

“As buildings account for around 30% of total emissions, we also want to ensure that we are at the global forefront in designing and building smart, energy efficient and affordable homes and buildings through the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, saving families money on their bills.

“This sector deal is supported by the biggest government investment in construction for at least a decade and will drive economic growth and create well-paid highly-skilled jobs in every part of the UK.”

Andrew Wolstenholme, co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, commented: “Securing this deal sends out a statement about the vital contribution our sector makes to the country.

“Our industry builds the schools to educate the young, the hospitals to care for the sick, the police stations to keep us safe, the roads and railways that get us to work, the power stations that keep us warm and the homes we return to each day.

“We are an industry that must be at the forefront of the UK’s drive for future growth and prosperity – and I’m confident that this deal will help to achieve that.”

The Government said the deal will deliver:

  • £420 million investment in ‘bytes and mortar smart construction’ – investment will transform construction through use of digital building design, new manufacturing technologies and offsite manufacturing helping cut the time taken to deliver new build by 50%;
  • Cheaper energy bills for families and businesses – support Industrial Strategy mission to halve the energy use of new builds by 2030;
  • 25,000 construction apprenticeship starts and 1,000 Construction T Level placements by 2020 to help give young people the skills that industry needs – with £34m to scale up innovative training models across the country;
  • $2.5 trillion of global exports – a globally-competitive sector targeting the growing international infrastructure market that is set to grow by 70% in the years ahead.

Smart construction

The £420m joint investment aims to transform construction productivity by driving the development of new innovative construction materials and techniques which will speed up building time, reduce disruption and ensure the homes, workplaces and public buildings of the future are more energy efficient. The deal will support the development of affordable, easy to construct homes, schools and other buildings which can be quickly and sustainably manufactured offsite, then assembled where and when needed.

Saving money

As buildings account for around 30% of the UK’s emissions, this Sector Deal will also help put the UK at the forefront of the global clean growth shift towards cleaner, more efficient construction. The government’s Buildings Mission announced by the Prime Minister as part of the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, set the objective of at least halving the energy use of new buildings by 2030, helping families to save money on their bills and making the UK a leader in the move to clean, green sustainable construction.

Future skills

As part of the deal, the Government will work with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to ensure a strategic focus on future skills needs and increase significantly the number of approved apprenticeships standards. With a third of the industry’s three million workers aged over 50, the sector deal includes £34m for expanding innovative construction training programmes across the country to up-skill the existing workforce and a commitment to increase the number of apprenticeship starts to 25,000 by 2020.