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A new construction forum to help Wales build back better from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will meet for the first time today.

First published:
7 July 2020
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The forum, chaired by Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters and attended by Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James, brings together leading figures from the public and private sectors across Wales’ construction industry.

At today’s meeting, members of the forum will discuss a way forward for the industry as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Many construction sites in Wales have remained operational during the pandemic with the industry following strict working practices to ensure employees’ safety. This has helped to ensure Wales’ 19 field hospitals have been built in weeks and work accelerated on the new Grange University Hospital. Road improvements, housing and the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme have also continued.

However, the impact of the pandemic presents many challenges for the sector.

Building on the principles of the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan, supporting construction will be vital in helping Wales’ economy to prosper. It will also be a way of supporting SMEs, growing the foundational economy and developing a low carbon future.

The forum’s work will be integral to helping the industry thrive over the coming years.

Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters said:

Construction is a crucial sector in Wales, employing tens of thousands of people and will be vital in supporting the growth of the economy in the aftermath of this pandemic.

I am very pleased to be chairing this forum which brings together key figures as we plan for the future success of the industry. Clearly at the forefront of our thinking will be how we support the development of an innovative fit for purpose construction sector over the next few years.

Decarbonisation must form part of that discussion and is at the very heart of our green recovery plans. This will not only help build a more resilient economy based on the industries we need now and in the future, but also meet the underlying challenges of public health, climate change, and fairness.

Coronavirus has had an unprecedented impact and we want to not only recover from its effects on our economy, but to build back better and see Wales thriving once again.

Local Government and Housing Minister, Julie James said:

One of the few positives to come out of the coronavirus pandemic has been the incredible response from local authorities working with partners across the whole sector to ensure temporary accommodation and support for well over 800 people who were previously homeless on the streets or in unsuitable accommodation.

“Building new homes and refurbishing existing facilities to provide high quality temporary and move on accommodation is a key part of our plan to ensure nobody is forced to return to the streets. The construction sector is vital to this and to delivering the social and affordable homes we need to ensure everyone in Wales has a decent permanent home. I look forward to working even more closely with the industry in future to ensure we achieve our ambitions in a safe and efficient way.

Director of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Wales, Ed Evans said:

Following the devastating impacts of COVID-19 and, before that, a decade of austerity measures, the need for the public and private sectors to work closely together across Wales and to support each other has never been more important than now.

As an industry which contributes so much to the resilience of Wales’ economy, employing and training thousands of people across the nation, we welcome the establishment of this Forum as a means for the public and private sectors to work closely in partnership. Throughout the pandemic, businesses have worked hard to maintain essential infrastructure and have developed safe working practices to do so.

We will be presenting our 12-point recovery plan to the Deputy Minister to support the survival of businesses in this uncertain short term. But we will also be committing to “build back better” in the longer term as we embrace the opportunities of increased digitisation, automation and better ways of working to tackle the challenges of climate change and strengthening our foundational economy in Wales. As an industry, we look forward to doing this in partnership.