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

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

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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.

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Rising demand for Grade A office space helps sustain Edinburgh commercial property market

Rising demand for Grade A office space helps sustain Edinburgh commercial property market

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State Street Bank at Quartermile 3 EdinburghTechnology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) companies are continuing to play a prominent role within Edinburgh’s office market, accounting for approximately 30 percent of transactions in the city. But rising demand for Grade A office space in Edinburgh by a variety of organisations, including coworking,  private and public sector tenants has fuelled significant occupier demand during the first quarter of 2018, according to analysis by property consultancy, Knight Frank. The latest commercial property figures show approximately 460,000 sq. ft. of new occupier requirements came onto the market in the first three months of the year from companies looking to lease office space in Edinburgh. More →

Government announces details of new real estate agency

Government announces details of new real estate agency

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The UK government has announced the creation of the Government Property Agency (GPA) which will aim to ‘improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Government Estate and generate benefits of between £1.4 billion and £2.4 billion over the next ten years’. GPA’s initial portfolio of 80 properties will grow to over 1,000 as it takes on increasing responsibility for managing the general purpose central government real estate portfolio. This is intended to manage the government’s property portfolio strategically in order to realise the benefits that departments cannot achieve on their own. The GPA will partner with government departments to find innovative property solutions, and provide expertise to enable them to deliver wider business change more efficiently. More broadly, the GPA will also be an enabler for the delivery of Civil Service transformation, regional growth and the government’s vision to strengthen the Union.

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HMRC signs for Manchester HQ as part of nationwide programme of lettings

HMRC signs for Manchester HQ as part of nationwide programme of lettings

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HMRC has completed a 25 year letting of 157,153 sq ft at the English Cities Fund’s New Bailey development in Greater Manchester. HMRC will take over the whole of the seven storey 3 New Bailey development with staff moving in from 2022. The move is part of a nationwide programme of lettings in major cities to deliver HMRC services at local level, overseen by the Government Property Unit. There have already been announcement of new HMRC hubs in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds and Birmingham. The New Bailey move will form the initial phase of the HMRC Manchester Regional Centre. Additional capacity for around 2,500 staff working in the city will be retained at Trinity Bridge House as a transitional site until 2027/8, when the second phase of the regional centre is expected to open. More →

Report outlines the impact of universities on regional economies and entrepreneurship

Report outlines the impact of universities on regional economies and entrepreneurship

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Although universities contribute to one in every hundred new business births in the UK, but 35 percent of universities did not contribute to the production of a single graduate start-up last year, according to a new report from Localis. It claims that while there are pockets of excellence in the way universities support enterprise and entrepreneurship across the country, too many of them are doing too little. Published in partnership with University College London (UCL) and the University of Huddersfield (UoH), the report explores what more can be done to encourage university entrepreneurial activity and its role in local economies.

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Commercial office market take-up in Birmingham has exceeded one million sq ft

Commercial office market take-up in Birmingham has exceeded one million sq ft

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Three Snowhill in BirminghamCity centre take up reached 1,005,000 sq ft in Birmingham last year, 51 percent above the 10-year average of 666,000 sq ft which marked a record year, according to Savills Research. Growth was driven in part by the Government Property Unit (GPU) deal, as public services accounted for 27 percent of take-up in the city centre last year, including the 237,000 sq ft pre-let at Arena Central. Birmingham’s boom was also boasted by take-up from serviced office providers that reached 208,000 sq ft during 2017, the highest level on record and this accounted for 21 percent of the total take-up, more than any other regional city. There now remains a shortage of Prime Grade A space in Birmingham city centre following a number of large lettings. Prime Grade A space now stands at only 169,000 sq ft, enough for only six months of take-up at average levels. Major construction project, Three Snowhill won’t complete until the second quarter of next year, when it will deliver 420,000 sq ft of much needed Grade A office space on its completion. Until then, competition among occupiers will further intensify for Grade A space.

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Public sector procurement must foster digital innovation and growth says report

Public sector procurement must foster digital innovation and growth says report

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If the Government is to deliver its plans of driving digital transformation to improve the UK’s public services it must make a step change in procurement within central government and the wider public sector. That is one of the main findings of Procuring the Smarter State: key steps to promote innovation and growth in the public sector, published today by techUK. The Government spent more than £12.2bn with SMEs in 2015/16 and thousands more tech SMEs have signed up to sell their services to Government in the last year through agreements like G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes and Services. But the Government needs to do more if it is to reach its aspiration of spending one pound in every three with SMEs by 2022. This new report sets out how procurement can act as a tool for Government to deliver its vision for the future of public services and use public sector procurement to help foster innovation in the supplier community.

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Support of gender diversity charter to widen digital and tech talent pool

Support of gender diversity charter to widen digital and tech talent pool

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As we reported yesterday there are gender as well as economic imbalances which could cause long term problems for the tech sector. While there is a looming digital skills gap – with the UK needing one million more tech workers by 2020, just one in ten females are currently taking A-level computer studies. Currently only 17 percent of the tech/ICT workforce in the UK are female, well below the 47 percent of women in the workforce overall. To help address the issue, the Tech Talent Charter is a commitment by  organisations (including Nationwide, BBC, HP, Monster and Cancer Research) to a set of pledges designed to increase gender diversity in the UK tech workforce. These pledges include inclusive recruitment processes and contributing company employment and diversity data anonymously to be published publically annually. Following yesterday’s budget, the Tech Talent Charter is announcing today that it has received Government funding as it welcomes its 90th signatory.

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New quarterly report highlights latest UK cities trends

New quarterly report highlights latest UK cities trends

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A new quarterly report that claims to analyse the latest trends taking place in cities across the UK has been published by Future Cities Catapult, the Government-backed centre of expertise in urban innovation, the City Innovation Brief (automatic download) summarises key developments and changes from cities across the UK, identifying where money is being invested and what future opportunities might look like within the advanced urban services sector.

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New evidence low productivity is having a significant bearing on pay growth

New evidence low productivity is having a significant bearing on pay growth

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New evidence low productivity is having a significant bearing on pay growthMost private sector workers are still not pushing for pay rises, despite falling real wages and low unemployment, according to the latest quarterly CIPD/The Adecco Group Labour Market Outlook survey. Only a quarter (24 percent) of employers in the private sector say they are under some or significant pressure to raise wages from the majority of their workforce, while almost four in ten private sector firms (38 percent) say they face no pressure at all to raise wages. The most common reason given by private sector employers (23 percent) for the lack of pressure to raise wages is a recognition among workers that the business cannot afford more generous pay increases, underlining the productivity challenge many firms face.  The survey of more than 2,000 UK employers shows a slightly higher proportion of private sector employers (36 percent) cite either some or significant pay pressure to raise wages for certain roles, particularly among high and middle-skilled jobs.

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Three quarters of firms dissatisfied with quality of UK infrastructure

Three quarters of firms dissatisfied with quality of UK infrastructure

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Three quarters of firms dissatisfied with quality of UK infrastructureBusinesses are concerned about the pace of commitment to improving the UK’s infrastructure, and a record number of firms are dissatisfied with the state of infrastructure in their region. With the UK currently ranking 27th in the world for the quality of its infrastructure, nearly all (96 percent) of businesses in the 2017 CBI/AECOM Infrastructure Survey see infrastructure as important (of which 55 percent view it as critical) to the Government’s agenda. From the Clean Growth Strategy and the £500 billion infrastructure pipeline to its decision to build a new runway at Heathrow and press ahead with the A303 tunnel, the Government has made clear its commitment to British infrastructure. However, only one in five firms is satisfied with the pace of delivery (20 percent) and almost three quarters (74 percent) doubt infrastructure will improve over this Parliament. This lack of confidence is attributed primarily to policy inconsistency (+94 percent of firms) & political risk (+86 percent). The digital sector is the exception, however, where 59 percent of firms are confident of improvements.

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New Scotland Yard wins Better Public Building Award at the 2017 British Construction Industry Awards

New Scotland Yard wins Better Public Building Award at the 2017 British Construction Industry Awards

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The New Scotland Yard building on Victoria Embankment has been named as the winner of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Better Public Building Award. The Award sets out to ‘recognise excellence in publicly funded buildings and infrastructure, and highlights projects that bring real change to communities, demonstrate innovative and efficient construction and deliver value for money’. The winning building, designed by AHMM, is a £58 million project that remodelled and extended the former Curtis Green building. It represents a move back to Victoria Embankment for the Metropolitan Police service, having first previously occupied the address in 1890. The new entrance is designed ‘to create a welcoming and non-institutional yet secure front door’ and reinstates the iconic revolving sign. The project was completed as part of a major rethink of the organisation’s corporate real estate strategy, in line with UK Government objectives for the public sector estate.

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