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000899 - Forum 23/11/09 13:14 Page 1
Ten years ago as we stood on the threshold of the Millennium, The UK Contractors Group, in partnership with the CBI, recently
the fear uppermost in many minds was that computer systems published ‘Construction in the UK Economy: The Benefits of
across the world would all crash, bringing chaos to vital supplies Investment’. Among its findings are that construction is the best
and services. The mayhem never happened and everyone breathed sector for stimulating employment. It also confirms the strong
a sigh of relief. ‘multiplier effect’ of construction expenditure, estimating that
every £1 spent on construction stimulated growth elsewhere in
Unfortunately the smooth passage into the 21st century was not to the economy of £1.84. The Report presents a very convincing case
last long. Over the past decade we have witnessed enormous shifts for investing in construction as a way of returning our economy
in the global economy and international politics, accompanied by to growth.
the increasing effects of climate change. For many, the defining
moment of the decade was in 2001 as we watched those planes Many will see this approach as a return to Keynesian economics,
crashing into the Twin Towers on 9/11; the United States, the world’s which has been so derided by extreme ‘Free Marketeers’. However,
sole superpower at that time, was suddenly very vulnerable. this Report carries a powerful message that investing in construction
will bring both short and long term benefits to the UK economy.
More recently we have felt all too sharply the vulnerability of western Unfortunately, the country’s finances are in a parlous state, and we
economies. In 2000 capitalism ruled supreme, with the emergence of are only months away from a General Election. Whichever Party
Eastern Europe and, indeed Russia itself, from communism, together wins, it seems inevitable that their first Herculean task will be to get
with China’s increasing embrace of the ‘Free Market’. Ten years later, Government finances back to a more normal state. Cuts in
we are faced with the consequences of a financial crash, which expenditure will inevitably be savage and capital expenditure is
might have been avoided if some restraints on the ‘Free Market’ had always the first on the line because it is the easiest thing to cut.
been in place. Let us hope that this Report will help the construction industry to
lobby for at least a moderation in those cuts.
As we discussed in last month’s Forum, the Stock Market’s revival
indicates that we are pulling out of recession, but the legacy of the As we approach the beginning of the second decade of the 21st
recent crash is likely to be with UK construction for the whole of century, the world order and the global economy both look far more
2010, if not longer. This is an industry which usually accounts for uncertain than ten years ago. These uncertainties are felt in our own
about 8% of GDP. Its continuing depression clearly has implications relatively small sector of the UK economy. This Report carries the
for the whole economy. Construction should be a driver for economic message of the importance of the overall construction industry.
recovery; investing in the infrastructure brings longer term benefits As a crucial service to that sector, our hire industry should take
by, for example, improving the efficiency of transport systems. comfort and draw strength from that.
As we leave this first decade of the 21st century, the continued impact Contract Journal’s management is wrong to throw in the towel now.
that this recession is wreaking on the construction industry is the Over the last 18 months, our advertising revenue is down by this
desperate news that Contract Journal, founded in 1879 and one of the sort of percentage, but we will continue to publish EHN because we
two principal weekly publications serving construction, closed at the are passionate about our industry and committed to help shape its
end of November. Its management cited ‘the unprecedented market future. We are proud of our achievements throughout this decade
recession which has slashed advertising volumes by more than half.’ and we look forward to working with you in the next.
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