Apr 23 2015

AEC at the polls – Who has promised what?

Party RosettesWith the most closely contested general election in decades looming I wanted to take a look at what each of the parties has promised and how it might affect the construction, infrastructure and real estate industries.

Obviously any area that has physical assets such as health and education spending can impact the industry but I will just be looking at areas with a direct relationship, namely housing, infrastructure (including transport) and sustainability.



It’s widely recognised that the UK has a chronic housing shortage and all the political parties have a view on how best to tackle this.

The Conservatives are targeting first time buyers with pledges to create 100,000 new houses at below the market value.  However the recent extension of the ‘right to buy’ sale of public housing has been criticised by many in the housing industry as driving up prices whilst not increasing supply.

Labour have pledged to build 200,000 houses by 2020 whilst also taking measures to control rent and reduce the numbers of empty properties.  This could potentially be a double edged sword for the industry as public house builders would receive more work whilst better rent conditions could reduce demand for private housing.

The Liberal Democrats propose the creation of 300,000 houses a year including the creation of up to five new garden cities representing a potential boon for both house builders and infrastructure companies.

UKIP focus on the location of homes, protecting greenbelt and providing tax breaks to encourage development of brownfield sites.  It is not mentioned explicitly but presumably supply will be left to the private sector.

With a similar approach to Labour, the Greens propose to build 500,000 social houses by 2020 whilst going further to increase rent controls and increase the attractiveness of renting compared to buying.



 One big differentiator between the parties in their policies on Infrastructure is where they stand on HS2.

The Conservatives continue to support their HS2 project whilst also promising the largest public sector investment programme since the 1970s, supporting roads and a major electrification project for the railways.  On the energy front they plan to phase out subsidies for wind farms.

Labour also support HS2 but aim to reduce some of the apparently generous cost margins whilst pledging investment in regional rail services as well as a spending programme on flood defences.

Both Labour and the Conservatives support expansion of airport capacity in some form.

The Liberal Democrats oppose the expansion of existing London Airports and the creation of a new one, whilst investing in the electrification of all rail routes, reopening stations and expanding light rail services in key urban areas.

UKIP have stated that they will scrap HS2 and block the construction of windfarms whilst supporting sustainable energy.

The Green Party also oppose HS2 and instead focus on tactical investment to improve existing transport services whilst investing in renewable energy and flood defences.


Sustainability and Employment

 Sustainability, working conditions and health and safety tend to get lumped together (maybe as an afterthought?), but here is where each party stands.

The Conservatives have pledged to change the planning system to protect greenbelt land whilst making no additional commitments on CO2 beyond those made in 2010.  They have also pledged to increase a start-up loan scheme to help contractors and the self-employed.

Labour have committed to meet IPCC targets on CO2 reduction and have also promised measures to protect small business from late payment by larger organisations.

The Liberal Democrats aim to considerably reduce C02 production both in transport (affecting construction) and the wider economy in addition to supporting the construction of green homes.

UKIP have stated that they will repeal the Climate Change act 2008 whilst toughening planning laws to protect greenbelt land and have also pledged to take action against late payment of invoices.

The Green Party would invest heavily in renewable energy whilst scrapping proposed nuclear and fossil fuel plants whilst also supporting the creation of more energy efficient homes and buildings.  They have also pledged a raft of measures to improve the working standards of contract workers.


And finally

In summary, it would appear that different parties promise represent more or less favourable outcomes depending where in the industry you reside.  Labour and the Liberal Democrats both have ambitious housebuilding schemes whilst the Conservatives appear to be committing to the biggest infrastructure spend.  If you are a contractor specialising in wind farms or insulation however you may well be hopping the Greens or Lib Dems are part of the balance of power.

In all likelihood we will be seeing a coalition government but the vast range of compromises and combinations this entails are highly complex, and currently unknown.

Ultimately, whatever the outcome of the UK General Election, it can only be of benefit to continue ensuring you are adopting the best practices and technologies available to improve collaboration and reduce risk.  It is interesting to note that it appears the UK BIM mandate is above partisan politics.

About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

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