Brexit: CBI stresses importance of getting new rules right for UK construction

Brexit: CBI stresses importance of getting new rules right for construction

Brexit presents opportunities for rule changes in sectors such as agriculture, shipping and tourism that could ultimately benefit the British economy and consumers. This is according to a new CBI study, “Smooth Operations, compiled over a six-month period, which states that the opportunities for divergence are vastly outweighed by the costs of deviating from rules necessary to ensure smooth access to the EU market. Another important finding is that changes to rules in one sector have significant knock on effects for companies in other sectors and throughout supply chains. There are specific regulatory needs for the construction sector, according to the report, the first being regulatory convergence on rules for construction products and materials, vital to protect the competitiveness of manufacturers and avoid major barriers to trade. The CBI also argues that maintaining equivalence in procurement rules between the UK and EU is important, but there are still opportunities to improve how the UK procures work in the construction sector without diverging from EU rules.

Neil Carberry, CBI Managing Director of Infrastructure and People, said: “This report comes from the heart of British business. It provides unparalleled evidence to inform good decisions that will protect jobs, investment and living standards across the UK.

“The experience-based evidence of companies across the country will be essential in the months ahead, as it is critical that negotiators understand the complexity of rules and the effects even small changes can have.

“Construction is one of the UK’s most vital sectors, literally laying the foundations for every other and is the second largest sector in the UK in terms of jobs. The EU is vital to the sector’s success, especially in providing a significant part of the workforce.

“The construction sector is highly regulated and may benefit from improvements in regulation in some areas and convergence in others, such as on materials. For example, equivalence in procurement rules matters, but there are still opportunities to improve how the UK does procurement for construction.”

Brian Berry, Chief Executive, Federation of Master Builders, said: “It is vital for the UK construction industry that the transition through Brexit is as smooth as possible. Whether it is continuity in health and safety regulation or the stability of the UK construction manufacturing industry, in key areas ongoing alignment of regulation will be important to our sector.

“The CBI is quite right to place this strong emphasis on stability and continuity and the FMB is supportive of this.”

Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive, Build UK, said that Build UK supports the CBI’s calls for a ‘jobs-first’ focus to the UK’s regulatory regime to avoid costly changes which would have substantial consequences throughout the construction industry.”

Smooth Operations is based on thousands of conversations with UK businesses, as well as dozens of leading trade associations, and provides an A to Z of the rules that will matter after the transition period. From architects to zoos, it outlines the regulatory needs of 23 industry and service sectors, of which 18 prefer convergence or alignment for the majority of regulation that matters.