No place like home

The construction and manufacturing sectors were all over the broadsheets and the tabloids last week, with headlines highlighting a boost for both industries post-election

Certainly, it’s encouraging to see that UK manufacturing is starting to recover after a tough few years, exacerbated by Brexit uncertainty, a skills shortage and a rise of cheap imports.

In the construction sector, I’ve noticed developers increasingly (but gradually) looking to home-grown products for their builds. It’s a shift in focus which is to be equally welcomed and encouraged by UK building product manufacturers who stand to benefit commercially. However there are a number of other good reasons to source domestically and, even better, regionally.

Financial benefits aside, locally-sourced materials have reduced environmental impact due to lower shipping costs. We should remember ocean and road freight are massive carbon emitters and contractors should be looking to reduce their usage of these, particularly if they want to meet 2050 net-zero carbon targets.

I also think the trend for sourcing systems and solutions closer to home has been a marked improvement in quality control over the last couple of years and looking to the future, we will see even tighter regulations and testing. This can only guarantee both quality and safety, as well as establish a framework for appropriate specification. This will serve as further endorsement for construction businesses to buy British. I am sure this will be the case across other manufacturing industries.

Finally, on a human level, the boost in manufacturing and construction and an increase of domestic orders will provide essential support to many communities across the UK which have been hard hit over the last decade.

Traditionally, manufacturing and construction provided the economic lifeblood and social cohesion in many areas now suffering from crime, poverty and lack of opportunity. If this upward trajectory continues, it will provide the societal resuscitation many of these urban and rural locations need, helping them both rebuild and restructure.

The North-South divide will be much talked about over the next few years. Re-establishing our manufacturing base and supporting the construction sector, particularly through big infrastructure, has the potential to close the gulf. Let’s hope this is an indicator of long term regeneration, not a flash in the production pan.

Charlie Ayers, Managing Director, SureCav