Construction Industry Urged to Team Up to Survive Slump; Eira Rowe, Operations Director for Constructing Excellence in Wales Argues That with Order Books Empty Now Is the Time to Work as a Team, Focus on Value for Money and to Not Argue about Price

Article excerpt

Byline: Eira Rowe

BUSINESS leaders in commercial property, construction and facilities management are not the happiest people right now.

In facilities management the trend is provision of the same level of support service at a reduced price; property developers have space on their hands as occupiers and tenants attempt to maximise their assets and mothball or vacate buildings.

Then at the creative end of the supply chain the architects, engineers, designers and builders have very meagre order books. That is because despite some media coverage to the contrary, industry reports in September show that construction orders fell by 14% between April and June.

The housing sector has seen the biggest slump, but it is a pattern repeated across the industry.

The Construction Products Association and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) both commented that the construction sector is not recovering, indeed Alistair Reisner of CECA said: "This is a reality check for the industry. It's pretty grim out there."

InWales things are potentially worse off than the rest of theUK as the country's construction organisations are very reliant on public sector work, which is under pressure, despite assurances from Business and Budget Minister Jane Hutt that major capital projects would not have to be cancelled. At the moment the construction industry is kicking its heels waiting for order books to fill up as confidence in the economy grows again.

D-day is 20 October - the date the UK coalition government announces its spending review. But in Wales the construction industry requires far more clarity than whatever George Osborne may or not be drafting, because construction is at a point where the good work done to encourage best value procurement might be undone in the rush to reduce costs.

The pressure to put in a lower price to be seen as more competitive is so great that Government targets on waste, sustainability and community benefits around schemes (large or small) might be compromised. …