House of Lords committee launches inquiry into construction sector’s poor productivity

An investigation has today (29.3.18) been launched in a bid to find answers into why the construction sector continues to fall behind other sectors and is looking to see whether government policy could possibly encourage better practice, particularly around public procurement.

In a quest to find solutions, the House of Lords science and technology committee is inviting contributions from those in the industry to better understand the problems facing construction. The committee points to the fact that the construction sector was worth nearly £100bn to the UK economy in 2016, yet has failed to see improvements like in other areas.

Specifically, those leading the inquiry will consider the potential benefits of off-site manufacture for construction and any drawbacks and obstacles to its wider use. Off-site manufacture for construction involves bringing together a range of construction processes, components, elements or modules in a factory before installation into their final location. It is believed that off-site manufacture could help to improve the productivity of the construction industry.

The committee’s chairman, Lord Patel, said: “The construction industry is vital to solving some of the pressing problems facing the UK, such as a lack of affordable housing and replacing ageing infrastructure. Whilst off-site manufacturing is not a new idea, the level of technology now available means it is much more viable as a modern method of construction than it might have been in the past. The inquiry will consider how off-site manufacture might contribute to improving productivity within the construction industry and how it will fit in with the construction sector deal announced by the government. The Committee encourage all those who are able to inform the inquiry to submit evidence.”

Questions which the inquiry will aim to cover:

  • What are the opportunities offered by offsite manufacture for construction? What are the drawbacks to offsite manufacture for construction?
  • What factors are likely to influence clients, architects, design engineers, contractors and the supply chain to choose or not to choose off-site manufacture?
  • Can the benefits of standardisation and factory manufacture be realised without hampering architectural ambition? If so, how?
  • What R&D is needed, and by whom, to fully realise the potential benefits of off-site manufacture?
  • What changes could be made to public procurement processes to encourage more sustainable practises in the construction industry and facilitate off-site manufacture?

Those wishing to contribute to the inquiry, should submit their responses via the online form by Thursday 26 April.

Click here to download the response form.

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