The Construction Employers Federation (CEF) – the certified representative body for the construction industry in Northern Ireland – has launched its 2016 Manifesto, which sets out a series of recommendations ahead of the May 2016 Assembly election.
Launched at a briefing event at the CEF’s Belfast headquarters, the Manifesto calls on the next Northern Ireland Executive to work together to develop and deliver a number of key projects, which CEF Managing Director, John Armstrong, said will be crucial to the long term sustainability and success of the construction industry in Northern Ireland.
The Manifesto sets out a series of key recommendations across a number of core areas, including:
The need for political stability and a renewed commitment to the complete delivery of the Stormont House and Fresh Start agreements;
- Agree a draft Programme for Government for public consultation by the end of May 2016
- Create an entirely new public sector procurement and delivery agency by the end of 2017;
- Lay before the Assembly a quarterly report on the procurement pipeline by autumn 2016;
- Proceed with caution, better recognising industry concerns, in respect of social clauses;
- Deliver the skills critical employer-led apprenticeship model as well as ringfence the money raised through the Apprenticeships Levy for apprenticeships;
- By May 2021, complete the York Street Interchange as well as make significant progress on the A6/M2 and A5 schemes;
Agree a multi-year road maintenance budget;
- Build on the work of the Housing Supply Forum by taking a number of steps to unlock housebuilding and;
- Take forward a range of measures to grow the level of finance available for capital investment by the Executive including: the Northern Ireland Investment Fund; agreeing with local councils an amount of borrowing that they would each put towards investment and; introducing separate domestic water charges.
Speaking at the event, Mr Armstrong said: “The construction industry will be the bedrock of Northern Ireland’s future economic growth. A vibrant, modern, dynamic and growing industry is one that can enhance Northern Ireland’s global competitiveness – and it is that ambitious vision that we believe the Executive must achieve over the coming five-year term and beyond.
“The 2016 Assembly election comes at a critical time in Northern Ireland’s history. The entire business community sees political stability as vital to our medium to long term economic prospects. Our industry wants devolution to work and it wants to see the next Executive take a much more strategic and ‘outcome’ focused approach, setting ambitious yet deliverable targets for the economy.
“Our manifesto for the coming Assembly election sets out how we believe the next Executive can make good on this vision. We stand ready to bea critical friend to the new Executive and we look forward to engaging with all parties over the coming months on the platform for growth we have laid out.”
According to Mr Armstrong, the launch of the Manifesto comes as the construction industry prepares to embrace the many challenges that 2016 will bring. “The last eight years have undoubtedly been the most difficult in the long history of Northern Ireland’s construction industry,” he said.
“From the high-point of 2008 the level of construction activity in Northern Ireland fell by nearly 40%. This catastrophic scenario also came at huge personal cost to the approximately 26,000 people who lost their jobs during the downturn.
“While the last two years have witnessed a rise in cautious optimism, many challenges remain. From continued restraint in public spending to meeting our new housing needs to the skills shortages that the industry faces, there is an urgent need for the next Northern Ireland Executive to take pro-active steps to make sure the industry is prepared for the future and drive Northern Ireland’s economic recovery.”
A full copy of the manifesto is available at www.cefni.co.uk