Building Links With Construction
Procurement, skills and tax were three key issues raised by construction industry firms from across Coventry and Warwickshire as they visited Parliament.
More than 30 delegates from a range of firms within the construction sector joined the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce at Westminster to raise a range of issues affecting the industry with MPs.
They met Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones, who is the Prime Minister’s small business ambassador for the Midlands; Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi, a member of Department for Business, Innovation & Skills select committee; and Sajid Javid, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.
Tom Nolan, from the British Chambers of Commerce, also joined the group inside the Houses of Parliament and said that the GDP figures which showed a 0.3 per cent drop in construction figures in the final quarter of 2013 were a ‘blip’.
That opened up discussions between members of the delegation, which included SMEs, larger contractors – including Costain Group – Coventry University, E.ON and FORCE (Forum for Constructing Excellence) and the MPs.
Issues raised included the taxation on construction companies, how to reduce payment time to contractors – starting with Government and local authorities – and the image of the industry.
Skills and apprenticeships were also raised as well as the industry working together more collaboratively throughout the supply chain.
Pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs), the paperwork required to apply for public projects, was one of the key issues of the day.
Nigel Robinson, the chair of FORCE, said:
“PQQs are so off-putting to smaller businesses. There are reams of paperwork to fill in and that’s before you are even tendering for individual work. I wonder if there is a way that they can be weighted so if it is smaller value work, the PQQ is less onerous and then, understandably, if it is very high value, more information might be needed. That would help SMEs.”
“We are moving towards a level playing field because not only does it help smaller businesses, it is beneficial to the whole economy and, very often, to the taxpayer too. We are heading in the right direction but more needs to be done.”
Paul Carvell, the Chamber’s vice president, said the Chamber would work with the MPs to keep pushing the message of construction. He said:
“It was a great event and there were a lot of suggestions, ideas and opinion and that made for a really healthy discussion. We have regular dialogue with our MPs – especially Marcus Jones in his role – and we will ensure that the issues raised are followed up.”
“Construction is a very important sector not just for our region but for the UK as a whole. It was great to meet such a cross-section of companies from within the industry here – from very small businesses to larger businesses. All have very strong views and I will certainly be following-up many of the points that were made.”