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At the time of writing, the UK General Election is underway. At stake is nothing less than the political and economic direction of a G7 nation for the next five years.

Whatever the outcome, regardless of current polling, no matter who takes office, this is an opportunity for renewal and fresh thinking across government, industry and society.

So, as the political parties and independent candidates attend hustings and put their manifestoes before the public, what might be the policy wish-list for our industry?

Certainly, within construction, the next Prime Minister and future cabinet ministers will have the power to affect positive change to benefit the entire industry.

So, what should the next government be concentrating on for our sector?

Optima’s Managing Director, Christian Mabey, let us know his views.

Tougher sanctions on Russian aluminium imports

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the issues at the top of his agenda is to request more robust sanctions on imports of Russian aluminium products. As he says; “Tougher sanctions on Russian aluminium imports are essential with legislation to ensure transparency, requiring a declaration of origin for all imported aluminium. It’s a moral obligation, as much as a commercial one; recognising responsible manufacturers and vendors.”

It’s also a question of trust; the construction industry must prioritise sound manufacturing and trading practices. By applying a tougher sanctions regime, the government will be identifying and penalising those who source materials from unethical suppliers, that way, promoting a much fairer and more principled marketplace.

Incentivising sustainable practices

Addressing carbon emissions is another critical area that’s ripe for government intervention.

As Christian says, “Better tax incentives would drive the industry towards sustainable practices; by rewarding firms that adopt innovative building techniques and encouraging developers which include a greater proportion of affordable housing in schemes.”

By introducing new tax incentives for companies that operate more sustainably, the government would not only encourage eco-friendly practices but also promote social equity.

Another must-do, is to allocate greater funding towards the research and development of green building products. The construction industry needs support in developing inventive new materials, techniques, and low-carbon technologies. Government involvement in these areas will help drive progress and make sustainable construction more accessible and cost-effective.

Mandatory carbon reporting and eco-labelling

Greater transparency around carbon emissions will be crucial for fostering an environmentally responsible construction industry. As Christian says: “Mandatory carbon reporting for manufacturers would force companies to disclose their carbon footprints, allowing for more informed choices by consumers and stakeholders.” Alongside this, the introduction of eco-labelling programmes would highlight products that meet high environmental standards. New eco labels would serve as a guide for construction firms and consumers alike, promoting the use of sustainable materials and practices.

Filling the gaps with new training and awareness campaigns

A significant missing link in the construction industry’s journey to sustainability is the lack of knowledge and skills concerning low-carbon materials and best practices. At Optima, we call on the next government to back industry-delivered training and awareness campaigns aimed at equipping construction professionals with the necessary expertise.

Such initiatives will be central to bridging the current knowledge gap; providing the construction industry with the tools it needs to ensure that these practices are standardised and widespread.

As Christian says, “Our future leaders must commit to initiatives like these to benefit the sector as a whole, contributing to our environmental and societal goals.”

An industry stands at the cross roads – Bold leadership is required

The construction industry stands at the forefront of potential change, and the future government – of whatever stripe – will have a pivotal role in shaping the construction industry’s path towards sustainability, safety and in so many other fronts. While the construction industry as a whole is looking to future leaders to champion change.

A new regime should bring a fresh approach, characterised by bold steps toward a sustainable and innovative future.
Through tougher sanctions on unethical imports, incentivising eco-friendly practices, funding research and development, and enhancing industry training, the government can drive substantial positive change.

Now is the time for decisive action and visionary leadership in British industry. We’re ready for it.

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