The Conservative party has taken the lead in a pre-election opinion poll conducted by UK Construction Week, despite 71 per cent of respondents claiming that the needs of the construction industry have been ignored by the key political parties.
The survey questioned more than 1,000 product manufacturers, contractors, architects, house builders, developers and suppliers from around the industry, asking for their thoughts on policies affecting the construction industry.
The overwhelming majority replied that they do not feel the interests of the industry have been addressed by the election campaigns, with only 29 per cent stating that construction has received adequate political attention.
When asked which party would be best for the industry if it comes to power, the Conservatives demonstrated a clear lead with 54 per cent of the vote. The results place Labour well behind at 30 per cent, while the Green Party has pushed ahead of the Liberal Democrats, coming in at six and four per cent respectively. UKIP managed to claim four per cent of the vote, with SNP and Plaid Cymru jointly accounting for the remaining two per cent.
Despite the positive indication for the Conservatives, the survey also appeared to reveal a desire for political change, with 72 per cent stating that a change in government would have a positive or neutral impact on the construction industry and just 28 per cent replying that this would have negative consequences.
When asked to look more closely at the policies they feel would positively benefit the industry, two key themes emerged: house building and skills. The Help To Buy programme was overwhelmingly highlighted as the most important recent initiative in boosting construction industry growth, receiving 67 per cent of the vote.
Interestingly, the coalition government’s flagship energy efficiency programmes the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation achieved just nine and five per cent of the responses, while the key sustainability programmes the Renewable Heat Incentive and Feed In Tariff each received just four per cent.
Qualitative responses to the research appeared to add weight to these results, with numerous respondents pointing to the need for greater support for the house building industry and the provision of more affordable homes. Indeed, when asked what policies they would most like to see the main political parties include in their manifestos, 20 per cent of respondents stated that more measures should be established to drive house building.
Skills took the lead as the most pressing issue however, with 31 per cent replying that government should take more steps to address skills shortages and provide better support for apprenticeships. A further 20 per cent replied that the planning process should be simplified, while 23 per cent called for an end to austerity measures with greater public spending on construction projects.
Richard Morey, Group Events Director at Media 10, the event company producing UK Construction Week, commented: “The survey results are interesting because they appear to show that the industry feels let down by the main political parties. Despite the fact that construction has been the main driver behind the UK’s economic recovery, the needs of the industry have been given very little attention in the run up to the election.
“The results have highlighted that while there are some very clear issues to be addressed – such as house building and skills shortages – it will be down to the construction industry itself to rise to these challenges, without much political support. For these reasons, it is vital that the industry takes charge of its own future and we hope that by providing a platform and space for this at UK Construction Week we will be able to help make this a reality.”
Bringing together nine shows under one roof, UK Construction Week will be the biggest construction trade event the UK has seen in years. Taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 6 – 11 October (with the trade only days from 6 – 8 October) the event will unite 1,000 exhibitors with an expected audience of 55,000 visitors.
Visitors will be able to attend Grand Designs Live, the Build Show, Timber Expo, the Surface and Materials Show, Energy 2015, Kitchens & Bathroom Live, Plant & Machinery Live, HVAC 2015 and Smart Buildings 2015.