Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) which represents more than 400 businesses that design, deliver and manage our built environment, reacts to the Queen’s Speech:
“Levelling up is a powerful and much used political slogan, but in order for it to have substance, we need policies that bring together sustained investment in people and places over many years. This latest Queen’s Speech is a useful start towards that, and we look forward to seeing more details in the coming weeks and months.
“Investments in infrastructure is are, of course, a key part of this, and the bill enabling the second leg of HS2 is welcome. However, if we are to truly unleash regional potential and boost our economic recovery, it has to also be about investments in our people. This is why the focus on lifetime skills and retraining is welcome, especially in the context of a changing construction sector which has the potential to create opportunity across the country as we navigate a path to recovery.
“Furthermore, it is welcome to see the Government pressing ahead with planning reform, although this needs to be about much more than simply meeting housing targets and pouring concrete. We need to ensure that, no matter the final detail, any new planning framework facilitates the major investments in the range of social and economic infrastructure our communities need, whilst helping us realise society’s Net Zero ambitions, if we are to truly Build Back Better post-pandemic across the UK.
“Finally, I’m looking forward to exploring the detail of the procurement bill, recognising that simplifying the current system makes sense, but only if this embeds a shift away from lowest cost towards best value for society.”