Changes in government approaches to construction

By Professor Ian Reeves CBE

Published Monday 01 February 2016

“Professor Ian Reeves CBE, the Senior Partner of Synaps Partners LLP was previously Chairman of Constructing Excellence. He was much involved with the Sir Michael Latham industry review and recommendations, the Sir John Egan's Rethinking Construction Report and the implementation of both. He comments on the 25th January 2016 interview in Building Magazine with Peter Hansford, following his stepping down as the Chief Construction Advisor to the Government, and the Government's, in his view, wholly bad decision to abolish the role.

The headline on page 8 of this week’s Construction News States;

"Government lacks skills to deliver-- former rail Minister says Whitehall must become more intelligent if major projects are to succeed".

The role of the Chief Construction Advisor was created to assist the Government to achieve this transformation. Such change in competence and culture is not achieved in a short time frame; it is a marathon not a sprint. To abolish the position, in my view demonstrates how little Whitehall has understood, or worse, seriously cares how true the above headline is. Developing such intelligence requires a hunger to succeed, coupled with focus, consistent leadership, and patient persistence.

I agree with Peter that to criticise the targets in the Construction 2025 industrial strategy document is to miss the point; which is that there is massive potential for improving the efficiency and productivity within the industry, and the trade gap of the sector.

Without a Chief Construction Adviser inside Whitehall there is no one with the role, responsibility and time, who has the knowledge, experience and credibility, to catalyse the transformation within Government to succeed, and who commands the respect of those in the industry. The Government directly and indirectly is the largest client of the industry, and the industry is a significant component of UK GDP, and of employment. It is a matter of national importance that the Government dose succeed in becoming an intelligent client and policy maker in respect to the construction industry. The Construction Leadership Council has a separate role and purpose, it is made up of very senior busy people who have their own interests and responsibilities to manage. They are not a substitute for the full time, committed, catalytic role of a suitably qualified and suitably experienced Chief Construction Advisor, within Whitehall."

For the full Interview with Peter Hansford in Building Magazine Click Here