Contractors this week expressed fears that the civil engineering sector will have lost up to 40,000 jobs over three years by the end of 2010.
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) urged the government to help the sector ahead of the pre-Budget report which was due to be published yesterday (Wednesday).
It wants the government to help boost workload, reverse the increase in firms shortlisted for work and ease lending terms for contractors. Contractors in the UK employed 151,000 in the autumn of 2007, but CECA fears this will plummet to around 111,000 by autumn next year.
“The sector is not special pleading. There is a workload crisis in our industry but we accept the situation with public finances will mean that extra money available for investment in infrastructure is going to be in short supply,” said CECA director Rosemary Beales.
“However, there is more the government could do to boost the sector and head off the run of redundancies.”
“There is more the government could do to boost the sector and head off the run of redundancies.”
CECA director Rosemary Beales
CECA research says 85% of contractors have seen no evidence of an increase in work as a result of the £3bn fiscal stimulus package released a year ago. It urged the government to ensure that money used to bail out the banks was used to support lending to contractors.
Beales also urged chancellor Alistair Darling to keep VAT at 15% for another 12 months as a way of making construction projects more viable.
She also urged the government to act to tighten up on procurement. The number of firms being shortlisted for each project has increased recently, meaning that firms were incurring extra bid costs with a lower chance of winning the work.
Beales said small and medium sized firms needed the most help. “Workload confidence could be restored by creating long term plans for investment, based on the five to 50 year horizon of need we hope will come forward from Infrastructure UK when it is established,” said Beales.