Queen’s Speech: Key takeaways for the construction sector

With construction output stalling and forecasters predicting just 0.5% growth in 2020, many working within the industry will have been hoping to gain some Government support in the Queen’s speech – but did it deliver?

Output grew by a minimal 0.1% in the third quarter of 2019[1], and with the Brexit deadline and the Oakervee report into the viability of HS2 looming, output levels are expected to remain muted for the forseeable future. At times like this, Government policies and investment are crucial to stimulate activity within the construction industry, so the contents of the Queen’s Speech will have been highly anticipated by many construction organisations.

While the effects of any new legislation will depend on the resource and funding that is put behind it, there were some encouraging elements of the Queen’s Speech for those working in construction. They include…

An independent regulator for building safety

Among the 26 bills set out in the Queen’s Speech were laws to implement new building safety standards, which Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick described as, “the biggest reforms to the building safety regime in nearly 40 years”.

Documents published following the Queen’s Speech revealed the Government’s plans to take forward their proposals for the creation of a new, independent Building Safety Regulator to oversee contractors, designers and building owners’ compliance with safety regulations. There will also be a new safety framework for high-rise residential buildings, which the Government claims will go further than the Hackitt Review’s proposals by creating a more defined scope of accountability and duties throughout a building’s design, construction and occupation. Stronger enforcement measures and sanctions are expected to accompany the new framework to encourage compliance.

While many within the industry will welcome a system to improve building safety, savvy construction companies won’t wait for the new regulator and framework to be established to make safety a key focus in their organisation. Constructionline’s Gold and Platinum supplier memberships include SSIP accreditation, in which our specialist Acclaim Accreditation team carry out a simple online assessment of your health and safety documentation and work activities. Achieving SSIP accreditation demonstrates your commitment to safety, making you more appealing to buyers – find out more here.

A commitment to the National Infrastructure strategy

The Government has committed to responding to the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) by publishing an infrastructure strategy, which they have confirmed will be published in the next few months. Many within the industry will be glad to hear that progress is finally being made on this strategy, as Government has taken no further action on the NIA since it was issued in July 2018.

While the specifics of the National Infrastructure Strategy won’t be known until it is published, the Queen’s Speech revealed that new legislation will be put in place to drive the delivery of improved broadband networks across the country, and proposals on railway reform will be brought forward. Supporting documents also defined two clear aims for the strategy: to close the productivity gap between London and the rest of the country, and to contribute to our net-zero emissions by 2050 goal.

It’s encouraging that the Queen’s Speech has provided some clarification on Boris Johnson’s promise to ‘turbo-charge our country with one of the greatest eras of infrastructure investment’, but we’ll have to wait for the National Infrastructure Strategy to find out more about the level of that investment and exactly where it will go.

New laws around environmental principles

Now that the UK is committed to reducing its carbon emissions to net-zero by 2050, the Government needs to provide clear guidance for businesses across all sectors on how we are going to reach this target. The Queen’s Speech provided a basic outline of the Government’s plans for the road to net-zero, as it announced that environmental principles will be enshrined in law for the first time.

The legislation will be put in place to improve our air and water quality, tackle plastic pollution and restore habitats to enable plants and wildlife to thrive. New legally-binding environmental targets will also come into force, and a new independent regulator will be established to oversee environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action.

As the built environment accounts for around 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint, it’s clear that as we move towards net-zero, there will be increasing pressure on construction companies to make sustainability a key focus for all of their projects. This means that buyers will be seeking suppliers that take a proactive approach to reducing their impact on the environment. We enable all of our Supplier members to detail how they’re going beyond a basic environmental policy, so their green credentials really stand out when they’re bidding for projects on the opportunities noticeboard. Find out how you can go beyond basic requirements and demonstrate best practice in your environmental policy here.

Be ready for change with Constructionline

Whether you’re a Buyer or a Supplier, Constructionline membership provides you with a range of features designed to help you thrive now and in the future, no matter how the landscape of our industry changes.

To find out more about how we can support your business, visit our dedicated Buyer or Supplier membership pages.


Blog Buyers, Health and Safety, SSIP, Brexit
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