ACE agrees that there are valid grounds for investigating the cost of civil engineering works in the UK. The objective of any investigation should be to establish whether there are efficiencies that can be made in project processes that could yield significant cost savings without damaging the competitiveness or flexibility of the UK construction industry.
ACE suggests that the investigation into the cost of civil engineering works in the UK should focus on four broad areas:
- Standards of project management, from specification and market testing through to procurement strategies and construction management.
- Workforce capacity and labour costs, including whether there is a disproportionate reliance on temporary contractors and specialist consultants.
- The regulatory framework, including the cost of health, safety and environmental compliance and the efficiency of the planning approvals system.
- The speed and quality of decision making in government.
As part of the investigation process, consideration should be given to creating a National Construction Research Institute. This would support the drive to greater efficiency by coordinating the collection of national and international scale comparative information on the construction process. Such an initiative need not be a new organisation, but could be a “virtual” body formed by sharing resources between key industry, academic and government bodies.