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Industry leaders to take campaign to chancellor

The leaders of a new construction campaign are hoping to meet the chancellor George Osborne in December so they can brief him on issues critical to the industry’s growth.

The Construction4Growth campaign has brought together 900 industry supporters with CITB-ConstructionSkills and federations including the National Specialist Contractors’ Council and the Home Builders Federation.

CITB-ConstructionSkills deputy chairman Judy Lowe told CN the campaign was hoping to meet with Mr Osborne around the time of the autumn statement on 5 December.

Ms Lowe has already met with new business and education minister Matthew Hancock before the launch of the campaign to discuss skills.

On meeting with the chancellor, she said: “If we have not got the Treasury on board there is no point.”

Ms Lowe said the move had come in response to MPs seeking “one industry voice” to deal with, and added that while she wanted people to prioritise support for the C4G campaign, she didn’t mind which campaign they supported once the government got the message that construction needed support.

C4G campaign:

See here for further details on the C4G campaign, including the names of the organisations that have pledged their support.

Other campaigns include the Creating Britain’s Future campaign, led by the UK Contractors Group, which wrote an open letter to ministers last week, revealed by CN, calling on support for the industry to help lead the economy back to growth.

Bodies already lobbying the government for support for the industry include the CBI Construction Council and the Strategic Forum for Construction, which CN revealed this month is examining proposals to change its governance structure.

According to figures from the Construction Skills Network, 160,000 construction workers are claiming job seekers’ allowance at a cost of almost £1 billion to the Treasury.

Among the next steps for the campaign will be for apprentices to build a ‘pledge wall’ at Carillion’s £193 million Birmingham Library site during the Conservative Party Conference, where MPs and ministers will be invited to sign up to the growth campaign.

The campaign will also push for short-term maintenance funding to boost the economy and get construction workers back into jobs.

Judy Lowe on C4G:

Construction workers who are unemployed…

There are 166,000 construction workers on the dole and one in five young people so we need to do something.

There are more construction workers on the dole than the total workforce in the British Army and you look at what you achieve with the British Army.

In terms of making clear how big the loss is to the workforce: we have more people not working than doing everything the army is doing around the world and that really brings it home.

On the prime minister pledging support…

The announcement from the prime minister was spontaneous. We talked to him about it when he came to our West Midlands operation and he was genuinely supportive.

On support to date…

It is not something that will join other organisations; it is very much a campaign, which is why we began with a soft launch in the provinces.

We were able, before we launched, to write to 72,000 companies and another 40,000 asking if they would take on apprentices this year.

We have already written to 112,000 companies – we have the support of 900 companies and organisations, so we are getting the message across, but it has to convert into government action.

On ‘one voice’…

This is not CITB-ConstructionSkills telling government; it is us serving as an industry coalition, to use a Parliamentary term.

We have thought about the messages that I was getting personally from MPs and what we were getting from departments about there not being one voice.

Growth is such an obvious thing that to unite the disparate parts of the industry it seems sensible to have a campaign where we could persuade the government that industry is speaking with a single voice.

On differences between industry campaigns…

I don’t think that should be the argument, otherwise you just focus on the disagreement between various campaigns.

As long as we get the goverment focusing on growth I don’t mind who it is, but naturally we would hope it’s our campaign for growth.

Perhaps by getting them to understand the basics of what they can achieve by focusing on 8 per cent of the economy.

On John Hayes move from skills minister to energy minister…

We are already focusing on investment in nuclear, which will be his responsibility and making sure the government knows what we need to do in order for a… nuclear industry to work.

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