Home » Poll reveals post-election optimism, but it’s not all rosy

Poll reveals post-election optimism, but it’s not all rosy

by Mark Cantrell
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There’s a strong streak of post-election optimism among architects and construction professionals, but it’s balanced by some practical pessimism, according to a poll.

NBS and Glenigan – both part of the Byggfakta Group – say their latest findings released on Friday show that 52% of those working in construction expect more projects to get off the ground following last week’s election.

Furthermore, they predict a greater range of projects and opportunities coming their way. The most “bullish” were those working in construction firms with a revenue of £50-£100m; with 61% expecting more work.

One in three construction professionals say infrastructure, social housing, and planning policy are important to this generation of politicians. A similar number expect clients to green-light projects more easily. However, while most people feel positive about the sector in the coming months, one in five are pessimistic.

Allan Wilen, Glenigan’s economics director, said: “Research we released [Friday] morning, alongside NBS, reveals a welcome degree of optimism amongst construction professionals. However we need to approach the next few months with a degree of trepidation.

“Former prime minister Harold Wilson once described himself as an optimist, but one who carries a raincoat, and this is the attitude the construction sector needs to adopt in the immediate aftermath of the election.

“In the short term, there’s unlikely to be a big spending spree as the new government surveys the lie of the economic land, and allocates spending where it’s urgently required. My advice is not to expect the shopping list of manifesto promises to be delivered overnight, we’ll likely have to wait until the Spending Review in autumn/winter 2024 for more clarity; even then, with multiple departments vying for funding, windfalls seem unlikely, and I would say contractors need to prepare themselves for a period of having to do more for less.

“Where we will hopefully see early progress is on planning, with Labour pledging an immediate updating of the National Policy Planning Framework, and the re-instatement of local housing targets to unlock development sites.”

Making sustainability a priority was a consistent call from built environment professionals. Only one in 20 did not want to see the new government focus on net zero.

A third of construction and architectural specialists called for tax incentives and subsidies to support sustainable projects, and a similar number wanted tougher measures on construction waste.

A quarter (27%) also called for a green infrastructure taskforce to support city and transport network decarbonisation. One in five architects (17%) also wanted to see EPDs become legally binding, higher than construction professionals (11%) and engineers (14%). This is possibly because of architects’ detailed focus on EPDs during the specification stage of a project, Glenigan and NBS suggest.

The survey of over 500 industry professionals reveals that despite a sluggish year of project approvals, positivity remains – and that hope is on the horizon.

Nearly half of construction professionals (48%) described the UK as ‘easy’ to operate in, showing a significant portion believe it is a great place to do business. This was the highest result compared to their industry counterparts (40% of architects, 42% of engineers).

Russell Haworth, chief executive UK and Ireland of Byggfakta Group, said: “While construction has built a reputation for resilience, there’s an expectation that our new Labour government will be good for the sector, driving growth through unlocking the planning system and prioritising the housing shortage.

“Construction professionals want the climate crisis to be addressed with both carrots and sticks in the form of tax incentives and regulation to ensure the UK can cope with climate change.  I’m cautiously optimistic about the future.”

Image credit: SFIO CRACHO/Shutterstock

Read next: Election 2024: Now Labour has to deliver

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