It has now been one month since the Queen marked the opening of State of Parliament, outlining the Government’s plans for the year ahead and the laws which they plan on bringing in to place to build a stronger and more prosperous UK.
The environment is a key focus for this next year, something that we welcome with open arms, as well as looking to rebuilding the nation after the Coronavirus pandemic and introducing a Planning Bill which will increase infrastructure works to build new homes, schools and hospitals.
This all sounds really promising for our future but it is reliant on many industries coming together to create change. One of these industries is the construction and civil engineering sectors and we’ve been talking to some of our clients about how the bills set out in the Queen’s Speech may impact them.
With COP26 taking place in November and the G7 summit having been carried out last week, the UK is one step closer to building a net zero future. The Environment Bill is due to be passed, alongside the creation of an independent Office for Environmental Protection, showing the Government’s commitment towards investing in green industries to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Leading wet civil engineering firm Land & Water believe this bill is critical in order to protect our environment as the company looks to maintain and enhance the UK’s waterways.
The company is encouraging those within the sector to work together collectively, as the industry is one of the key producers of CO2, to think strategically and introduce a carbon reduction agenda. For example, it always looks to identify low energy consumption operations, such as using HVO fuel in its machinery, to bring about positive behavioral and environmental change, whilst building in biodiversity to protect eco-systems.
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The Government also outlined its plans to ‘level up’ aiming to provide the public with access to lifelong skills and training to support the job market and regenerate communities. The construction and civil engineering sectors are at the forefront of this new legislation as the Government looks to bolster infrastructure.
Supporting communities to generate more jobs can only be a good thing but as the Coronavirus pandemic has changed working practices, it’s important for businesses to know how best it can support its employees when there is such demand for flexible working as well as the need for health and safety protocols.
Many of our clients, and Voice itself, also have an apprenticeship programme to help safeguard the future of the next generation. As part of this ‘levelling up’, it’s important to create a conversation around how employers can feel secure in making long-term financial decisions through hiring apprentices.
We hope this is something the Government can provide clarity on.
Finally, there’s the Procurement Bill which looks to ease the process of bidding for Government tenders. For civil engineering and construction firms, this bill would need to outline clearly what the Government expects from companies in terms of objectives as they are often asked to balance value for money with social value whilst looking towards carbon neutrality.
Land & Water often finds that these three factors can conflict with one another so for SME level contractors to be competitive with larger Tier 1 contractors they need to know what is of most importance.
These are just few of the bills highlighted in the Queen’s Speech but it’s clear to see that they all have a similar goal of trying to build back our economy after a challenging 18 months.
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